James Ferriabough was just a teenager when he went off to fight in Vietnam, but his biggest battle began when he returned home from the war. He turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with constant nightmares and flashbacks. Over the years James kicked his dependence in rehab, but his liver had already suffered too much damage. At age 50, he was told he had Hepatitis C and would need a liver transplant. "At first I didn't really care," says Ferriabough. "I said, 'Maybe it's time for me to get out of this world.'"
But becoming a grandfather changed his mind. James knew he wanted to fight for his life. He came to the Transplant Institute at BIDMC, where some 40 transplants are performed each year. Half of those transplants are the result of Hepatitis C, a virus that tainted the blood supply in the 1960's, leaving many who had transfusions or shared needles sick.
BIDMC's Transplant Institute specializes in Hepatitis C cases, offering patients one of the largest selections of clinical trials for liver disease. The team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure the best chance of a successful transplant.
"One of the things we emphasize in transplant surgery is short preservation time of donor organs." says Dr. Douglas Hanto, BIDMC's Chief of Transplantation. "We tend not to wait until the morning to do the transplant. We'll do these transplants anytime day or night to try to minimize the preservation time and we think that improves outcomes after liver transplant."
James had his transplant in February of 2006 and soon was back to his job as courier. His doctors call his speedy recovery a miracle. He is now able to spend more time with his family and credits his wife, his daughters, and BIDMC for his new lease on life.
"They were so great. From the secretary on up they are a great bunch of people. I was in horrible shape and I got a second chance. I'm very thankful, " he says.