Placentia councilman gets new liver in cancer fight
By JESSICA TERRELL
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
PLACENTIA – Just one day after doctors told Placentia Councilman Greg Sowards that he could be taken off the organ transplant waitlist at the end of September because his cancer was advancing too much, he got a life-altering phone call: He had a match.
Sowards, who went public about his battle with liver cancer last October, received a liver transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 3.
He could be released from the hospital as early as Thursday evening, and expects to be back in attendance at the Sept. 21 City Council meeting.
"I'm feeling better than I have for the last two years," Sowards said Wednesday afternoon, speaking on a cell phone from his hospital room. "I feel like the luckiest man on earth."
The 61-year-old father of two has served on the Placentia City Council since 2006, and is currently running for reelection. Sowards said he thought briefly about not running because of his illness, but decided that he wanted to continue working toward his goals for the city.
"He's a tough guy," said friend Craig Green. "He's driven. He cares about the city. He wasn't going to let (cancer) deter him."
Sowards said he is looking forward to his fall campaign, and doesn't expect his recovery to impact his ability to perform his City Council duties.
His experience with liver cancer and recent surgery have been documented by the cable network Showtime for use in an upcoming documentary on organ transplants.
The donated liver came from a 40-year-old man who died in an off-road accident, Sowards said.
An account manager for a nutritional company, Sowards took a leave of absence from the council at the end of October 2009, but returned early in the year. He was present at all but two Placentia City Council meetings between January and August 2010.
Sowards is one of six candidates running for two spots on the City Council this November.