Tekisha Eubanks, 28, of Chapmanville West Virginia was the key note speaker at Boone Memorial Hospital's CORE Flag Raising Ceremony held Thursday, April 11th. CORE (Center for Organ Recovery & Education) events take place across the United States each year in April to celebrate Donate Life Month.
This past year, Tekisha was given mere hours to live.
"I was told I needed a liver within 48 hours or I was going to die," said Tekisha.
It all began in September of 2018 when she was treated for a bad gallbladder.
"I had already been seen by a surgeon and was scheduled for the removal of my gallbladder. On the day of my surgery I was fully prepped, IVs in place and ready to go. My surgeon came in, instantly looked at me, and said there was no way possible I could undergo surgery because I still held a large amount of jaundice. After leaving the hospital, and for the days ahead, I continued to feel worse with the jaundice coming and going. On Sunday, November the 11th, I made my husband call an ambulance because I could literally feel the life drain from my body."
Within hours Tekisha was transferred to Pittsburgh, PA to be treated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. While in PA, Tekisha was diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
"I apparently had it since I was a small child but it had never been detected. We spent that day discussing things I would have to do with my liver being in that kind of shape, basic changes and possible medications. The next day I took a turn for the worse. I was instantly put in ICU and placed on a ventilator."
Tests were completed over the next day and the medical team at UPMC announced that Tekisha was in need of an immediate liver transplant.
"When we were told I only had 48 HOURS to receive a liver or I was going to die, my friends and family immediately took action and started sharing my story in hopes of finding a donor."
Friends of Tekisha made a Facebook post pleading with people to help. Several called the hotline but didn't qualify, that was until Ali Thomas of Charleston.
Ali was already a registered organ donor and was Tekisha's blood type. She reached out to Tekisha's friend via Facebook and received information on how to apply through the hospital to see if she was a match. After Ali's application was completed, the hospital called her in immediately. She loaded her things and drove to Pittsburgh, alone, all while continuing the registration process over the phone with the hospital.
"In a total of 12 hours, this complete stranger who didn’t know much of me or my whole story, was sharing an operating room with me while we underwent the transplant. Words cannot describe what this wonderful God sent lady means to me. I literally owe her my life. Because of her, my
3-year-old son has a mother to watch him grow. I have a new life because of organ donation."
In February, Tekisha's family hosted a dinner in Ali's honor. It was an emotional, yet rewarding, day for both ladies.
"Today I finally got to meet the sweet soul who received part of my liver," said Ali. I knew it would be emotional to see her for the first time, but I could never have prepared myself for just how truly amazing it would be to look at her standing here, smiling, full of life...ALIVE! I am so grateful that I got to tag along on this journey with you, Tekisha. It's humbling to watch your energy and the fact that you smile despite all you've been through. That shows nothing but strength. This experience has changed my life in so many ways, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. In a way, I think you saved me too."
"I was so thankful to be invited by Boone Memorial to share my story today," said Tekisha. It is a story I will always tell to whomever will listen. Not because it involves me, but because people need to realize that miracles happen and angels do exist. Ali Thomas is my angel. She didn't know me from Adam, didn't know my story, just that I had only hours to remain in this world. Yet she never hesitated to be there ready and willing to help a complete stranger. To me that shows great strength and courage, but mostly it shows love. Every time I look into the eyes of my child I always think Ali for giving me the ability to watch him grow. I will forever be grateful for the life she gave me back...Ali Thomas is my miracle."
In addition to Tekisha's moving story, speakers at the Flag Raising Ceremony included hospital Chief Operating Officer, Virgil Underwood, Hospitalist, Dr. Shawn Reinert and CORE Professional Service Liaison & Donor Family Support Coordinator, Sarah M. Clemente, MHA.
Hospital staff, community members and donor families watched Tekisha raise the Donate Life Flag while local resident, Daisey Harvey Plaster of Greenwood, sang 'Wind Beneath my Wings."
"Organ donation is important," said Underwood. "Events like these mean something. They make people aware; they allow people like Tekisha to share her story and, ultimately, they give people hope."
To learn more about organ donation visit https://www.core.org/
To learn more about upcoming Boone Memorial Hospital Donate Life events contact Marketing Director, Karlie Belle Price at 304-369-1230 Ext. 5506.
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