Friday, January 10, 2014

New year, new lease on life

JUST IN TIME: Fritz, the morning after his liver transplant

When the call came in at 4 am, just before Christmas, Eric Fritz, 38, of Liverpool, N.Y., was so surprised he made the transplant coordinator tell him twice. After a year of waiting, he had a donor liver.

“It was surreal,” Fritz says. “I was unable to grasp what was going on.”

For five years, he had been battling primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) – a progressive autoimmune disease that damages the liver’s bile ducts. When he woke up one morning in February 2013 he was jaundiced. The disease had reached a turning point and only a new liver could help him. Fritz was forced to give up his 18-year career as a nurse, and the disease greatly affected his ability to participate in the lives of his three children – Ethan, 12, Jacob, 10, and Anna 7.

“It was a huge knockdown for me; before I was coaching my middle son’s football team and going to all the kids’ games and school events,” Fritz says. “I was so run down and didn’t feel good, or was in the hospital, so I had to give that up. It was hard because it wasn’t something
I had missed before.”

Fritz says he chose to come to the MGH because without aggressive treatment the prognosis for PSC is poor. He only had been out of the hospital two days when he got the call for the transplant.

The morning rush to the MGH earned him a speeding ticket courtesy of a New York State Police Trooper near the Massachusetts border. But Fritz is not the least bit bothered by the ticket; he admits to speeding. He’s just grateful for his new liver.

“It’s an amazing gift,” he says.


Read more articles from the 01/10/14 Hotline issue.


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