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He was looking for a liver giver and she delivered

IU Health University Hospital

He was looking for a liver giver and she delivered

Wayne Brown posted on Facebook that he needed a new liver. A long-time friend saw his post and was evaluated for IU Health’s living liver donor program.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

They met through a greyhound rescue group. It was one of the early hints to Wayne Brown that Ashley Carter has a giving heart.

The youngest daughter of Joe and Michelle Carter, at 23, Ashley was determined to help her family friend.

“When I saw Wayne’s post on Facebook, I thought ‘what the heck, if I can help I will,” said Carter, who lives about five miles from Brown. IU Health ranks as one of the best transplant programs in the nation. When a patient faces end stage liver disease, and they risk liver failure, transplantation offers them a chance at new life. With living liver donation, a portion of a donor’s liver is transplanted into the recipient. At least 30 percent of the liver remains in the donor and grows back within a few weeks. The donor does not need to be related to the recipient. In general, the donor should be in good physical and mental health, and be between the ages of 18 and 55.

Carter fit the criteria and completed numerous tests to determine that she was a suitable donor. Those tests included blood work, chest x-rays, EKG, CT Scan, and MRI.

“I would tell people who are considering donation that it’s nothing to be afraid of as far as your health. They want to make sure you’ll be as healthy as you were going out, as you were when you came in,” said Carter. A 2016 graduate of Indiana Connections Academy, Carter has always been active in outdoor sports - softball, rugby, fishing, boating, and hiking. She is also a lover of animals. She cares for four dogs – a border collie cross, named “Kodi,” a Pomeranian cross, named “Zeva,” and two greyhounds, “Calli” and “Tito.” She is also a lover of horses and has worked at a boarding barn and as a trail lead. She now works at Noah’s Veterinary Clinic.

It was the love of greyhounds that brought Carter and Brown together. Brown and his late wife, Pam volunteered with greyhound rescue.

About a year ago Brown began having health issues. Testing determined he had cirrhosis of the liver.

“I don’t do drugs or alcohol. It was just one of those things that we have no known origins,” said Brown, 65. In fact, he said he’s always been in great health. A native of the city’s eastside, he graduated from Butler University and worked 30 years as a respiratory therapist and also worked as a Fishers firefighter. Ten years ago he obtained his MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. He also got an undergraduate degree in biblical studies and is ordained as a minister. He has combined his interest in theology, business, and technology by working as a video engineer for the Indianapolis Indians, a videographer for two churches, and a law enforcement chaplain for the Whitestown Police Department.

“I’ve upended my retirement doing what I love,” said Brown. He didn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. But in July, his wife of 12 years died of heart disease, and shortly after he learned he needed a liver transplant.

When Carter learned she would become Brown’s donor, she bought t-shirts for them. His shirt reads: “Looking for a Liver Giver.” Her shirt reads: “De-livered.” On November 9, under the care of IU Health’s Dr. Chandrashekhar Kubal, an hours-long surgery was completed to give Brown a new liver.

Four days after surgery Carter walked the hall of IU Health University Hospital where she was in a room just a few doors away from Brown. They joked about keeping each other in line and then Carter talked about her motivation for helping her family friend.

“I’ve always thought of Wayne and Pam as a grandpa and grandma. I thought if I can keep him around to harass him then I’m going to do all that I can,” said Carter.

Before his hospital discharge, Brown invited his transplant caregivers to sign a t-shirt with the message: “Made of recycled parts.” As nurse Christine Beanbloosom signed the shirt Brown talked about his care. “I have been so fortunate. Everyone here at IU Health has been amazing,” he said. He plans to frame the t-shirt as a reminder of the surgery that gave him the gift of life

And as for Carter, he calls her “his angel.” He tries to thank her but says the words aren’t enough. “She’ll always be a part of me,” he said.

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