A Tale of Two Transplant Survivors

Arlington Magazine | LAURIE MCCLELLAN

Amanda Bisnauth-Thomas. Photo by Sean Scheidt

On May 15, 2010, Amanda Bisnauth-Thomas woke up with a headache. Her right hand, she noticed, was shaking a little. Feeling too ill to drive to her son’s Little League game at Jamestown Elementary, she asked her husband, Michael, to take the wheel. Halfway through the baseball game, Amanda began slurring her words. That’s when Michael drove her to the emergency room at Virginia Hospital Center.

At 41, Amanda had never had a serious health problem in her life. So the couple was floored when the ER doctor returned, lab results in hand, and delivered the startling news that Amanda’s liver was failing. She needed a transplant immediately.

“Okay, I’ll check myself in on Monday,” she said.

“You don’t understand,” the doctor replied. “We’re putting you in an ambulance right now.” The transport sped to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., which specializes in organ transplants.

That’s about the last thing Amanda remembers from that day. Her liver was deteriorating rapidly, and her blood stopped clotting. Michael, a Foreign Service officer (he had met Amanda while he was stationed in her native Guyana), watched as his wife of 14 years lay in a hospital bed, her long, dark hair fanned over a pillow, while blood leaking from her veins turned her skin black and the whites of her eyes bright red. Continue reading