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My name is Mark Peters and my wife, Tamara Peters, recently received a liver transplant from a living donor at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

The story of my wife’s struggle, over the last almost twenty years with a progressive liver disease, is one that I think is inspirational and needs to be heard by many. 

Tammy is a 36 year old mother, daughter, wife, 2nd grade teacher and an overall amazing person who is completely selfless and is a rock in many people’s lives.  She was diagnosed with her liver condition at the age of 16 when giving blood at her high school.  From that point her life changed dramatically, and she instantly became a fighter with a deadly disease. 

Tammy struggled with all the normal teenage girl issues, and in addition had to struggle with things like multiple medications every day, severe weight gain due to steroids, and feeling awful because of her disease. As she grew older she fought through college and received both a bachelors and masters in education at Buffalo State College with a 4.0 GPA. Tammy got a job teaching at Ellicottville Central School, was married, and had one son. She also suffered the loss of an unborn daughter due to the disease, but Tammy continued to fight every day of her life up to the day of her surgery.

Tammy was put on the waiting list in New York State three years ago for a cadaveric liver, but she was told that in our state  it was very unlikely she would survive long enough to receive an organ as there are so few organs for so many people.  She waited, got sicker, and still went to work every day feeling terrible. As someone who does not give up, she continued to pray. 

About three months ago Tammy was contacted by a co-worker and friend at Ellicottville Central School, and this amazing woman wanted to be tested as a living donor.  Wanting to be a living donor is a nice gesture, but a very difficult thing to actually achieve.  There are weeks of compatibility testing and the process is daunting, to say the least, for the potential donor. 

This  amazing woman, Kelly McMahon, allowed herself to be put through the ringer and in her words “it’s unlikely I’ll be compatible, but at least it will bring attention to organ donation and what Tammy is living with every day.”

There are amazing people in this world that look at someone who is hurting, crying inside every day, a family that is losing its rock, slowly and painfully, and they will do what it takes to give that person a chance.  How can you ever tell that person what they mean to you? 

Many months later on July 6th, Kelly went into surgery at 7:30 AM to donate a part of her liver to Tammy.  The completely selfless act, putting her life in danger, having full support of her family, is the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed.  This situation has touched literally hundreds if not thousands of people who have learned of this act over the past many months.  Every day we all hear about bombings, killing, crime…..the decline of civilization…….and this situation has given me, and countless others, a reminder that amazing things happen.  There are amazing people in this world that look at someone who is hurting, crying inside every day, a family that is losing its rock, slowly and painfully, and they will do what it takes to give that person a chance.  How can you ever tell that person what they mean to you? 

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Last night I sat in a room with both donor and recipient, and family of both, and was able to see the strength of some very amazing people.  As these two women were less than ten hours away from surgery, they laughed, told stories, shared time and this situation, and solidified a bond that will last for as long as they live.  Kelly, the donor, is an individual like I’ve never seen.  A mother, wife, sister, daughter, professional, made the decision to save another, and for that, she is a hero.  I don’t use that term, hero, lightly….there are heroes among all of us, but few of us could fit the job description.  A police officer, firefighter….they sign up for it….it’s their job, they get paid.  That takes nothing away from what they do, as they are saving our lives every day, but for someone to, for no reason other than to help someone, risk their life, is a powerful thing….and a message I think more people need to hear.  With so much bad in the world, this one amazing gesture rights the world in my eyes and the eyes of many who have heard of this situation.

Amazing people are out there, and those people give hope and inspiration to the rest of us that we can all do something to help, even if it’s not to this magnitude, but we can all make a difference in people’s lives….no matter how small or large the gesture.