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Patient writes book about alcohol abuse, transplant: ‘Not One But Ten’

IU Health University Hospital

Patient writes book about alcohol abuse, transplant: ‘Not One But Ten’

It’s something Ron Brady knows a lot of people don’t like to talk about – Cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcohol abuse. That’s why he wrote a book as part of his healing.

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

His readers say Ron Brady is “open and revealing,” “honest,” and “an inspiration.” Brady says his life is marked by a second chance. His path has also been called “an everyday-kind-of-guy experience.”

“I have no past history of alcohol abuse in my family. The only thing was a few drinks after a Friday night high school football game,” said Brady, 62. “For 30 years there was no booze in the house until I was 45.” Looking back he says his career in project management and marketing for a regional airline contributed to his alcoholism.

“There were a lot of conferences, conventions and vendors. In the 80s and 90s we did business in a bar on a napkin with a handshake. Nothing happened without guys sitting around a table drinking. It’s not an excuse; it’s just how the corporate world worked,” said Brady.

Eventually it caught up with him. In June 2018 he checked himself into rehab. On the fifth day he was unresponsive. He ended up in the hospital. For eight days he was in an induced coma, on a ventilator, facing a number of life-threatening complications. Six months later he transitioned to IU Health and was on the road to liver transplantation.

He credits his long-time companion Debbie Miles with helping him get through the worst times. In the care of IU Health’s Dr. John Holden, Dr. Marco Lacerda, Dr. Richard Mangus, and Transplant Coordinator nurse Shannon Wilson, on July 30, 2019, Brady received a new liver.

“The people at IU Health were phenomenal. It wasn’t like I was a patient; they made it personal,” said Brady. He says it was in part, because of the care he received that he wrote his book, “Not one, but Ten: Dodging Death and Finding Life after Years of Alcohol Abuse.” He started the book three months after his transplant and finished it a year later.

“Daytime at the hospital was hectic at night the nurses had more time to talk. They never judged me. They always said, ‘you have an amazing story.’ I felt like if I shared it, I might help someone else,” said Brady.

It took courage. Brady said it also turned out to be therapeutic.

“I admitted that I was the leader of happy hour, but yet some of the people closest to me didn’t know the extent of my drinking. They didn’t understand the shame I felt – especially needing a transplant,” said Brady.

Even before his transplant, Brady said he began making significant lifestyle changes.

“I accepted Christ and was baptized. I felt like the Lord had given me a second chance and there must be some reason for that,” said Brady. “I was discharged just seven days after transplant and even the doctors and nurses thought that was remarkable.”

When he began detailing his life – before and after his liver transplant, Brady said he didn’t know it would make an impact on anyone. But one reader wrote: “This was a very detailed look at Ron's life as an alcoholic, a successful businessman, good family man, and a person who never forgot where he came from.” Another wrote: This is an open and revealing life story of what alcohol can do to a person and a family, even when everything might look alright from the outside.”

Brady says the “second chance” was meant to help others.

“I’ve had people I’ve know all my life and once I said I had a problem, others started coming out and admitting their struggles,” said Brady. “I don’t have a person I know of who hasn’t been absolutely supportive. If I went back to one of the bars I used to go in with my buddies, and order a beer, they wouldn’t serve me.”

He knows there’s temptation.

“It doesn’t end with a transplant, or a book. I attend a number of meetings with people who hold me accountable,” said Brady. He also enjoys fishing, golfing and camping.

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