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It was the second time Clark Harrison had received the gift of life through organ transplant. Now he’s approaching life with a new mindset.
By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, firstname.lastname@example.org
He celebrated his 39th birthday in ICU and received a special “cake” made of washcloths and towels compliments of his transplant care team.
Those simple acts of kindness have made the world of difference in the life of Clark Harrison and his wife Shannon.
“They’ve never given up on me,” said the Southern Illinois resident. He traveled three and half hours to receive care at IU Health University Hospital. On January 21, Harrison underwent the first procedure for a kidney and liver transplant under the care of Dr. Chandrashekhar Kubal and Dr. Richard Mangus. It was the second time in his life he received the double transplant.
“Depending on how you look at it I guess you could say this is his third gift of life – the day he was born and then the two transplant surgeries,” said his wife. “I think IU Health is one of the most amazing hospitals I’ve ever been to and now I’ve gotten my transplant, and even though the road has been rocky, I’d recommend anyone I know or love and care about to come here,” said Harrison.
It was 2005 when Harrison received his first double transplant. Diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) he underwent surgery at another hospital. PSC is a disease of the bile ducts that damages the liver. Years went by. Harrison and his wife married in April 2017 and by May he was admitted to an out-of-state hospital, diagnosed with Cirrhosis of the liver. In July his kidneys began to fail and he started dialysis.
“The hospital there said they would not transplant him again because of his issues with alcohol abuse,” said his wife. “He was only 23 when he got his first transplant and he did go out drinking with his buddies. Things change as you get older.”
Harrison entered an alcohol treatment plan but when it came time to test for transplant he was told his body was too weak. His wife began researching other transplant programs around the country and by the fall of 2018 Harrison was a patient at IU Health.
“It has not been an easy road. The day of his surgery he went in at 4:30 p.m. and Dr. Mangus didn’t leave him until 3:45 a.m. I am told there were lots of prayers, lots of miracles,” said Shannon Harrison. Together the couple has one son, 18 and a daughter, 11.
“He has so much to live for. It’s like when other people wouldn’t give him a chance; the doctors here went above and beyond. It’s been like a healing sanctuary here. Everyone has treated us like family,” said Shannon Harrison.
“I’ve done a lot of deep thinking and there’s no amount of thinking that can change the past. I’m still working on developing rules for moving forward and the alcohol counseling will be ongoing,” said Harrison. “For now, I am blessed with another chance at life and I think over time I’ll be able to help others. I want to celebrate my 40th year by being healthy and active and in a place to give back to others.”