Jennifer Rosenthal

A quick-fix dietary supplement changes her life foreverIn many messages today there is a push to be thin. People are left with disoriented body images which many times lead to a low personal self-image and they begin a quest to resolve whatever they see as wrong. In the race to find a quick fix, I, like many, took a dietary supplement believing this would be my answer. Little did I know my only answer would soon lie in a complete stranger, in their compassionate ability to give the gift of life—and save my own.

The days leading up to my transplant were demanding on my body and even more trying on the souls of my family and friends. Just seventeen days after taking the supplement, I was left in Status 1 drug induced fullminant liver failure; in conventional terms this means completely comatose, on life support with my remaining time measured in hours. While my family held on to the slightest hope for a miracle, my death looked imminent. I was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center and under constant supervision in the Intensive Care Unit. While hoping for the best, my family also was preparing for the worst.

The doctors had given them the statistics: Nationwide over 80,000 people are awaiting organ transplants, including more than 2,000 children under 18, every twenty minutes a new name is added to the list but 16 people die waiting each day. With this in mind, one of the necessary measures in preparation included making arrangements to bring my son to the hospital to tell me goodbye if an organ did not become available in time. Unwilling to lose hope, my family trudged on, hoping for a miracle. My miracle came on November 12, 2002 at 8:12 a.m. My mother received the call from UCLA Medical Center: “We have a liver for your daughter.”

I’m able to tell my story to my 4-year-old son because a family out there had the courage to look beyond their own pain and find goodness out of their son’s passing. Their son is now part of an elite group of people that will be remembered not only in his family’s hearts but in my heart, my son’s heart and that of the rest of my family and friends. It is because of this family and families like theirs that a burn victim can heal, a blind man can see, and through organ transplantation, people that are in life-threatening situations can live longer, more fulfilling lives.

When I share my story, each time I leave people with this thought: put yourself not only in the position of becoming a donor, but more importantly imagine yourself as a potential recipient. If your only chance to live relied on someone giving you the gift of life, wouldn’t you want as many donors out there as possible to increase your chance of survival? How can you expect that of others and not of yourself?