Not Chopped Liver

Imagine you are very sick. After suffering for years, doctors say you need a liver transplant or you will die very soon. Amazingly, more than two dozen people volunteer to donate part of their own livers to you. You can take your pick, right? Sweet.

This is exactly what happened to Bishop William Weigand. He did not celebrate his good fortune. Instead, he worried about the risk to the donor. In most cases the liver will regenerate itself, but the donor still faces a small chance of complications.

Here is a story about Dan Haverty, the Sacamento firefighter who was finally chosen as donor for Bishop Weigand.

The bishop required that the donor have neither children nor parents to care for and be financially secure, in the event of disability or death. He insisted that any donor have the support of his entire family.

To guarantee such support, the Havertys called a family meeting with their parents, three adult children and grandchildren. They showed medical data, graphs and photos. They described hypotheticals.

One daughter-in-law wondered what would happen if one of his grandchildren needed a liver in the future and there was nothing left to give. Haverty's mother said she had lost two daughters, one to cancer and another in a plane crash. She could not face losing another child, she said.

"We trust in the Lord," Haverty assured the assembled family. "If I should die, that's the sacrifice we are willing to make."

Eventually, the family came to share that perspective, he says. "There was a bit of faith involved."

By the fall of 2004, Weigand was growing weaker by the day. He could no longer work full time and had to turn over some of his responsibilities to others. When saying Mass, he needed other people to help him stand or hold the chalice. The toxins had begun to affect even his mental acuity and made him dizzy. He got up to use the bathroom one night and fell down the stairs.

Meanwhile, the search for a donor was narrowing. In February 2005, the bishop phoned Haverty to say the fire chief had been chosen.

"The Lord puts suffering in some people's lives so other people have the opportunity to show love and compassion," Haverty recalls the bishop saying.

It was tough, even then, for Weigand to accept such a gift. He was awestruck by the parishioner's generosity but wondered if he should jeopardize another man's life. What if something happened to Haverty, he worried. That would be worse than dying himself. MORE

What amazing faith and sacrifice in both men. God honored them with a complete success. Doctors took 73% of Haverty's liver to implant in the Bishop, who had practically no functioning liver left. Now both men have livers that are about 90% of their original size. Read the whole story. It's inspiring.

Hat tip: Orthometer

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