As a senior at Desert Mountain High School in 2005, Amanda had big plans for her future. High school graduation and moving on to college with friends were all just months away. But in early April, she started to have nagging symptoms that would not disappear. Prolonged exhaustion and weakness, coupled with muscle and joint aches, led Amanda and her family to seek medical attention. After a battery of tests came back inconclusive, the doctors prescribed a steroid that seemed to help and sent her home.
But she wasn’t home for long. She became severely jaundiced on May 2 and was admitted to Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. Another series of tests led doctors to a diagnosis of Wilson’s Disease, a rare, genetic liver condition. Rather than processing copper as waste, Amanda’s liver released it back into the bloodstream where it could potentially cause liver and kidney failure, as well as brain damage. “My disease progressed quickly,” Amanda said. “My liver had completely shut down, and doctors said I needed a transplant right away.”
Fortunately, Amanda received a liver transplant on May 8. She was placed in a medically-induced coma for nearly two weeks, and remained in the intensive care unit until June 20. Amanda’s doctors set up a physical therapy regimen to help her regain muscle strength and learn to walk again. During her surgery and recovery, Amanda needed 117 blood transfusions – 27 red blood cell, 26 platelet and 59 plasma transfusions. She returned home just before Independence Day 2005.
“Blood donors gave me the gift of life,” Amanda emphasizes. “Their generosity will always be a part of who I am. As a matter of fact, they inspired me to become a nurse.” After completing her nursing degree at ASU, Amanda worked for several years at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. She recently accepted a position in the GI Clinic at Maricopa Medical Center.
Amanda and her husband, Marc, were married in February 2012 and live in Tempe.