On April 24, 2000, Pattie Corder and Flonnie Broyles were looking at
life one day at a time.
Neither one could imagine that two decades later, the mother and
daughter would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of a life-saving
liver transplant surgery.
"To be honest with you I never thought we would be celebrating a
20th anniversary...It is a milestone I did not see at that time,"
said Pattie, as she talked about the transplant. "As sick as she was,
we were just looking at one day and then a week at a time...This has
been a blessing for all of us."
Flonnie said that she feels good and she is able to do so many
things. She said at the time of the transplant she never imagined
that she would see her 80th birthday, and each day has been a blessing.
"I never imagined then that I would be celebrating this 20 years
later," said Flonnie.
The mother of five—Pattie, Elaine, Dewayne, Jackie and Sallye—has
been able to enjoy grandchildren and family events that she might
have missed without the life-saving transplant.
It was the "gift of life" when Pattie donated 60 percent of her
liver to her mom. The mother of five was struggling to survive in the
spring of 2000, after years of battling the effects of Hepatitis C
that she contracted through a blood transfusion in the mid 1970s.
Flonnie first discovered she had Hepatitis C in 1976, when she woke
one morning and saw that the whites of her eyes had turned yellow.
Flonnie drove herself to the hospital and gave them her own diagnosis—
There was no cure, so after a stay in the hospital, she went home to
begin what would be a more than 20 year battle between the disease
and her liver. She was given dietary restrictions and basically had
no symptoms though the disease was taking its toll.
In early 1995, she had severe itching on her arms. Flonnie went
through a battery of tests, including allergy tests, before doctors
traced the problem to the destruction of her liver. After doing a
biopsy, doctors told her that 75 percent of her liver was damaged and
she needed a transplant to survive.
She was on the transplant list but chances of finding a donor in
time were not very good. Insurance problems had Flonnie and her
family looking at other facilities for help, and they ended up at the
University of Ohio in Cincinnati. She became a patient there and
doctors removed her spleen, thinking that might help her symptoms.
It did for about a year or so. In February 2000, doctors talked with
Flonnie and her daughters and explained the situation to them.
"She was very sick, but she was not sick enough to go to the top of
the list," said Pattie. "The doctors told us her liver could shut
down at anytime...They really didn't give us a lot of hope."
The family then learned about the possibility of a family member
giving a portion of their liver. The procedure had been done before
at the hospital. The liver is the only organ in the human body that
can regenerate itself.
Pattie knew immediately that she wanted to be the one to donate part
of her liver. She talked with her family and convinced them. But her
mother was hard to convince. Flonnie was more worried about her
daughter's health than her own.
On April 24, 2000, mother and daughter were wheeled into side-by-
side surgical rooms. Pattie went into surgery first, while other
members of the team were preparing her mother. Surgery for Pattie
lasted about six hours. It was about 12 hours for Flonnie.
Flonnie had some post operative complications which resulted in a
lengthier hospital stay for her. She spent a month in ICU and another
month in the hospital.
"I was just giving her back some of what she has given me," said
Pattie. "And I get my reward every single day, when I talk to her and
when I see her."
Each year, mother and daughter think about the anniversary. One
usually calls the other to say "Happy Anniversary." On the 20th
anniversary they may even have come up with some special plans, but
with the coronavirus pandemic that could not happen last week.
"I never imagined we would not be able to celebrate our 20th
anniversary together due to a pandemic," said Pattie.
There have been many things that Flonnie would have missed if she
had not had the transplant, including the birth of a grandson, five
great grandsons, six great granddaughters and three great-great
There have been family weddings, graduations, church plants and
grandkids ballgames and wrestling matches. She is active in her
church and volunteers as often as she can. Flonnie has also been the
primary caregiver for her son, Dewayne, for the past 34 years.
Flonnie recently celebrated her 80th birthday with family, friends
and church family, during a surprise party held in March at the
extension office. She noted that it was a complete surprise and she
is still amazed that her family and friends managed to keep the
"secret" until she walked through the door at the party.
Flonnie is doing very well, and though she has had some health
issues over the years, none have been related to the liver transplant.
"God is so good to both of us. He has blessed us with the best
family ever and our church family and friends are second to none. We
are blessed beyond measure," said Pattie.
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