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A Little About Me & My Family

Where to begin!? For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Bridget 🙂 I was born and raised in the Chicago area in a little town called Fox River Grove. I grew up with my two sisters, Erin and Ceara, and my parent’s, Ron and Nancy. From a young age I was always a determined child. If I wanted something then I would set my mind to it and make it happen. This helped me achieve many things in life. Learning to play the flute, a BS degree in Electrical Engineering, great jobs, a sabbatical to Brazil, travel, becoming a health coach. I started dating my husband Craig shortly after I returned from Brazil. We had known each other for 10 years prior and one NYE in West Palm Beach, FL we hit it off and the rest is history, as they say. We were married in 2013 and honeymooned in France. A year later we became pregnant with our sweet Kieran (who is now 6). During that year, we built and bought our first house in Chicago. We loved it! When Kieran was one, our little firecracker Alana (who is now 4) was conceived. At this point, we decided to move to the suburbs. We bought a house in Glen Ellyn, where we still reside today, renovated it and then Alana was born. During that year we celebrated Alana’s baptism and 1st birthday. Shortly after she turned one is when my health took a nose dive out of nowhere. It was the first time in my life that I couldn’t work hard to get what I wanted. 

Alana – 4 Years Old

Initial Diagnosis

It all started the summer of 2018. The symptoms that I developed were insomnia, extreme anxiety, paranoia, confusion, weight loss, weakened muscles, facial hair growth and puffy face. Before I was admitted I could barely walk up the stairs and I certainly could not pickup my 1 year old daughter. There is nothing harder than feeling like you can’t be a mother to your children. It was an extreme and very traumatic season and I truly suffered. It got to the point where I felt like an empty shell of a person looking in on my life. I was in and out of the emergency room several times, but never admitted. We knew from blood work that my cortisol levels were off the charts high, but weren’t sure why. After a month and a half of this, I was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. After 2.5 weeks there I received the diagnosis of neuroendocrine cancer (commonly referred to as NETs, neuroendocrine tumors) with a primary tumor in the tail of my pancreas and metastasis to my liver with innumerable amount of tiny lesions all over. NETs is often difficult to diagnose and catch early because often times there are no actual symptoms until the disease is advanced. I was 38 at the time and still had so much of my life ahead of me. It was like a big punch in the face. 

Treatments & Obstacles

Throughout the next year and a half I consulted with several NET specialists, did 3 rounds of oral chemo, two bland liver embolizations and had countless blood draws and several scans. Unfortunately the treatments were ineffective and it was deemed that my tumors were ‘stable’. Then my life forever changed for the second time in two years. On January 7th, 2020 I nearly died. At the end of 2019, I got a cold that over the course of a month (with the holidays and travel mixed in) progressed to double pneumonia and septic shock. When I arrived at the ER the nurse was immediately concerned with my oxygen saturation. Within 30 minutes I was in the ICU and gasping to breathe even with oxygen. The ICU doctor told my mom that he needed to intubate me right now and made her leave the room. When she came back in I had a drain in one of my lungs, I was on kidney dialysis and connected to about 12 different antibiotics. All of my organs started shutting down and my blood pressure dropped really low so they also had me on vasopressors. The ICU doctor said my situation was tenuous. Miraculously after 8 days they took the respirator out and after two weeks I moved out of the ICU to regular care. I remained in the hospital for another 3 weeks after. While I was on the respirator my muscles went into atrophy. I had to learn to swallow again, stand and walk. During this time my liver grew very large and I developed ascites because of it. I also had extreme edema in my legs, ankles and feet that took almost a year to fully clear. I was discharged to Shirley Ryan Ability Lab where I spent two weeks in rehabilitation. I still had a long way to go when I was discharged but I am happy to say I am in a much better place now.

Kieran – 6 Years Old

New Doctors & More Treatment

In the last year I switched my care from NW to University of Chicago as I was out of options with them. This is when liver transplant became very real for me. The liver tumor board and surgeons were interested in my case, but required me to go through radiation treatment (called PRRT) first. This was an 8 month process with an infusion every 2 months. I had a very rough time from side effects for 4 months. Towards the end of treatment I slowly started to feel better. Today, I am feeling pretty good besides the constant discomfort and pain from my distention. 

Liver Transplant!

I hit a major milestone and the liver tumor board and surgeons accepted me for the transplant screening process. God willing, I will be listed on the transplant list soon. Unfortunately, my MELD score is so low that the surgeons said I likely would not make it to the top of the list unless I went into liver failure as right now my liver is still functioning normal. Their preference as well as ours is to do a living donor transplant. They gave me the go ahead to start seeking a donor! Exciting and scary all at the same time. 

It has taken an extra amount of courage, but I have accepted that my best path forward is with a Liver Transplant. As mentioned, I need a donor. What does this mean exactly? Someone with a compatible blood type (B, O or A with subtype 2), someone under 55 and is in good health. There are certainly other criteria, but these are the basic requirements.  If someone is compelled to give this wonderful gift of life, a small portion of their own liver would be transplanted in place of mine. 

To give you a better picture of what that would look like, I have laid out the criteria that University of Chicago has shared with us about the Assessment Process. 

Step 1: Screening Questionnaire

Click the link below to fill out the University of Chicago’s Living Donor Questionnaire. The minimum requirement is between the ages of 18-55 and blood type B, O or A with subtype 2. If you are having difficulty with the link or online document you can reach out directly to the University of Chicago Living Donor Hotline or Email.

Living Donor Hotline:

773-702-0620

Email:

living.donor@uchospitals.edu.

Step 2: First Appointment and Consultations 

  • First appointment with a donor team doctor and donor nurse coordinator. 
  • Serelogy (test for infections) and regular blood work.
  • ECG (test for electrical activity of the heart).
  • Chest X-Ray (image of the lungs).
  • Psycho Social Consultation 
  • Surgical risk consultation. Review of surgery and consent for donation surgery.

Step 3: Diagnostics Tests

  • MRI (visualize bile ducts)
  • CT (visualize vascular anatomy and size of liver)
  • Liver biopsy as needed such as fatty liver and abnormal liver enzymes.
  • Additional tests may be required if any health conditions are found.

Step 4: Preparing for Surgery

  • Surgery education with donor coordinator.
  • Plan a surgery date.
  • Admission Consultation (meet with anesthesiologist to prepare for admission to surgery).

Bridget Sievers:

773-742-0026

Email:

bridgetaileen@gmail.com

THANK YOU

It’s extraordinary to think that only a small portion of someone’s liver can provide me a path forward. The portion of your liver that is donated regenerates in 6-8 weeks and you can return to normal activity in 2-3 months. There are no long-term limitations with undergoing the donor surgery. The donor would also not need to be on any long-term medications from the surgery.  

If you feel so inclined to share please use the link https://www.holisticbliss.co/bridgetsieverslivertransplant. We welcome sharing across all social media platforms! The more people we reach the greater the chance I will find a match. Myself and my family sincerely thank you for reading my story and sharing it with others. We are hopeful in the next steps ahead and walking by faith.

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Bridget Sievers Liver Transplant

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