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New Hampshire man receives life-saving organ transplant at UW Health

UW Hospital performed a record number of organ transplants in 2020, despite the pandemic.
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 10:32 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Joe Murray, a New Hampshire native says when COVID-19 shut everything down, he was just one test short of landing a spot on the waiting list for a new liver.

He never dreamed it would happen but he would soon learn that anything is possible.

Diagnosed with liver disease well before the pandemic, Joe Murray says he felt fear and uncertainty, as did his wife and three children.

“It became clear that a pill was not going to cure what I had,” he said.The disease took a physical and mental toll. “Stomach pains, horrible cramps. Sleeplessness and what liver disease does which is particularly insidious is it can zap your ability to think clearly,” said Murray.

He was soon left with just one option to live, a liver transplant. The pandemic slowed the process but by May things changed when a family member of a friend connected him to UW Hospital.

UW Health’s transplant program is nationally recognized. “It has grown to be one of the largest multi transplant programs in the country,” said Dr. Dixon Kaufman, Medical Director for UW Health’s Transplant Center.

The program has 54 years of history. “It has grown to be one of the largest multi transplant programs in the country despite the size of Madison being smaller than other cities,” said Dr. Kaufman.Murray would soon learn why. By the summer of 2020, one year after his diagnosis, he was able to get on the transplant wait list at UW Health.

Murray temporarily moved his family to Madison as he waited for some good news that soon would come.

“July 8 at about 2:30 in the morning my cell phone rang and it said UW transplant and i couldn’t believe it,” he said.Hours later, he received his long awaited gift...a liver donation.More than six months after surgery, Murray says he’s doing well and hopes to one day meet the family of his donor to thank them.Murray is now back in New Hampshire with his family.

Dr. Kaufman told me the reason there were a record number of transplants is because there were a record number of organ donors in our area.

That made way to save many lives.

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