Rare liver transplant family affair for Mich. son, dad


Editor’s note: Grand Rapids-area journalist John Barnes, 57, a freelance writer for The Detroit News, received a rare live-donor liver transplant at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit on July 11. It was the first operation of its type in Michigan in 2016. This is his story.
Detroit — For months, I kept it a secret.

My liver was failing. I would die without a transplant. But I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it with anyone other than family.

A longtime friend had wept at the news, so I shut down, turned inward. This was a battle I would fight privately. No need to drag others into the drama — the awful weight of knowing that in order for me to live, someone else had to die.

As it turns out, others already knew.

Seven months ago, hospitalized in Grand Rapids with complications on Christmas Eve, I open my laptop. Bad move. I am chastised by a former co-worker, who now works with my daughter. She has figured out my secret.

“I’ve been wondering about your health for several months. People have noticed that you have not been yourself,” writes my friend, Cami Reister.

“No one should go through what you’re going through alone. Not you, and not your family. So, you can blame me for the fact that I have discreetly shared your health situation with some people and will continue to do that when appropriate. ...You should know that the number of people praying for you, your family and your doctors is growing. Continue reading
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