Fort Worth Woman Commits Selfless Act of Love
When 56-year-old Tammy Ekrut logged onto her Facebook page one warm July day in 2015, she had no idea about the miracle that was about to play out.
Katie, a long-time friend of Tammy’s, had posted a plea about a dear friend of hers from Corpus Christi, Texas, who was in need of a liver transplant. Mike Pettijohn, age 36, married with two children, had a sick liver – one that, through no fault of his own, was failing rapidly. In February 2015, he was placed on the transplant waiting list along with more than 14,000 others waiting for a liver nationwide. As Bekah Pettijohn viewed her Facebook page one evening, she began to read out loud to her husband, Mike, “A dear friend needs a liver transplant… you must have blood type O, be in overall good health, and be willing to donate a portion of your liver to him.” Mike never realized the post was about him.
A healthy woman of strong faith with the correct blood type, Tammy decided in a heartbeat that she would do this for him. She completed the online application on the transplant center’s website and received a return call quickly. She then went to San Antonio for two days of testing to see if she would be a match for Mike.
On September 14, the transplant committee met to discuss whether or not they would determine to move forward with the surgery.
“It was a long day of waiting. I got the call at 5:30 p.m. with the long awaited ‘yes!’ Surgery was set for October 27,” said Tammy.
Even though they had one small setback, the surgery eventually took place on December 8, with 67 percent of Tammy’s liver being transplanted. Both Mike and Tammy had pre-op appointments on December 7 and it allowed them to visit each other in the waiting rooms.
“Each visit with this sweet couple confirmed that this was the right choice,” said Tammy. “They were so gracious and loving to me. I feel like I’ve been the one who has received the greater gift.”
Tammy was hospitalized for six days after the surgery, while Mike’s stay was a little longer, but the liver was functioning beautifully. Tammy’s employer, XTO Energy Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas, was supportive of her since the beginning of the process.
“My immediate supervisor and the other members of our department have been amazing,” said Tammy.
Since the surgery, Tammy, along with her husband, Jim, and daughters, Lauren and Ashley, have become close friends with the Pettijohn family. The Pettijohns are more than grateful to Tammy for her selfless act of love. Tammy has also signed up as an Ambassador of Hope in LifeGift's Fort Worth office.
To learn more about living liver donation, visit the United Network for Organ Sharing at www.unos.org.