Given three months to live, a Fallser beats the odds and gets a new lease on life.
By Meg Herrmann
In May of 2016, my boyfriend, Matthew Tarsiewicz had some health issues pop up very suddenly. Around Mother’s Day we started noticing that his eyes were yellow and a few days later his co-workers started getting worried because his skin started turning yellow, jaundice.
When his co-workers made the comments he left work early and went to urgent care where they ran some blood tests. The next day he got a call and he was told to go immediately to the emergency room because the bacteria in his blood was way higher than it should have been. It was originally thought that he had gall stones but that wasn’t the case. It was an issue with his liver.
We never really got an actual reason for why his liver failed but it could have been something that was genetic and we’ll never know because testing wasn’t able to show that. When he went to the emergency room they admitted him and he was then transferred to a larger hospital where they would be better equipped to handle any issues.
It seemed like as soon as he was admitted to the hospital many of his symptoms came to the surface. His feet, legs and stomach started filling with fluid because his body was working properly and couldn’t process it all and his numbers just kept getting worse and then they just stayed bad with no change. He said he felt fine but his numbers told a different story and the doctors were shocked he felt as good as he did.
Finally, after being in and out of the hospital three or four times within a month and a half with no results from the doctors he decided to go to another hospital for another opinion. He went to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP’s emergency room) on Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 and was told a couple days later that he needed a new liver in order to live.
He was given 3 months to live if he did not get a liver. By the next week, Friday, July 1st, 2016 around 6PM he was put on the transplant list for a liver.
His numbers were so bad that he was very close to the top. Now all he had to do was wait for a phone call with an offer that a liver was available. He received a phone call on Saturday, July 2nd, 2016 around 2PM saying a liver was available.
They gave him all the information they could on where the liver came from, age of the person, what issue they had, how far it would have to travel in order to get to him, and if they know of any lifestyle they had like drug use, etc. He was free to accept or deny the liver based on that information. He accepted and then we just had to wait for the surgery to happen.
He went into surgery late that night and it lasted about ten hours. Everything went well and by the time we saw him after the surgery he looked a million times better than he had before.
He was in ICU for about a day and a half and they had him walking the day after the surgery. I stayed with him in the ICU and helped him with whatever he needed during that time along with his parents, Mark and Rita Tarsiewicz (still East Falls residents, Vaux Street). He was transferred to a regular floor the night of July 4th and came home on July 11th, after all his numbers looked good and he was walking around well.
He was able to go back to work in November 2016 and has been doing well. He will hit his two year mark this coming July and is very grateful that his donor decided to become a donor and the help of the Gift of Life Donor Program because without them he wouldn’t be here today.
Matt and I walked at the Donor Dash and we couldn’t think of a better cause to be walking for. So many people are waiting for a lifesaving organ and promoting awareness for the need for organ donors has become a cause close to our hearts.
The shirts we wore this year were designed by my older brother Ryan Herrmann (an East Falls resident until 2009 — 3200 block of Penn). Our team was called “Team Tarsiewicz-Transplant Warrior” so Ryan decided to create a shirt with half Matt’s face and half of Spartan or warrior helmet. The shirt turned out amazing and we are so glad we were able to get everyone together to vote and win the T-Shirt contest this year!
With deep appreciation,
(East Falls Resident until February 2017 when Matt and I bought a house together and moved to Eagleville)
You Can Make the Difference
Team Tarsiewicz is so close to its goal (69% raised of their goal). Visit the Gift of Life Donor Dash website to donate whatever you can. If you’d like to volunteer your time, the Gift of Life Family House in center city can always use helping hands. The house offers support and lodgings for patients and their families traveling to Philadelphia for transplant care. More info at www.donors1.org.