Eoin Crosbie received a liver transplant in 1996 and says the transplant saved his life.
Early one morning in April 1996, Eoin drove from the city of Nakornsawan in Thailand to Bangkok airport. He said he felt increasingly sick while waiting to check in his baggage and eventually vomited blood into a waste bin. Despite this, he boarded the plane, landed in Taipei and then finally made it to his hotel in Fukuoka in Southern Japan. He collapsed in the foyer. Eoin said he had lost four of his six litres of blood and would have died if he made it to his hotel room.
After being rushed to Kyushu Medical Hospital, Eoin was stabilized by a "lovely team of doctors" who would not let him come home. Eoin had a stomach ulcer that was bleeding, along with three bleeding varices in his esophagus.
"Outside the hospital is a statue of some outstretched hands, under which is written 'in the hands of God'. I give thanks to Him for looking after me that day as I bled and bled," said Eoin.
The bleeding had occurred because Eoin's liver wasn't functioning properly and had not done so for the previous 20 years. He was diagnosed with sclerosing cholangitis (progressive narrowing of the bile duct). The Japanese doctors said that unless Eoin had a liver transplant within six months, he would die.
Eoin had to travel to Australia for his transplant because the first liver transplant in New Zealand did not occur until 1998.
"I arrived back in New Zealand in July and after the local River Valley Lions Club in Gore had raised $32000, my family and I were on another plane, this time to Brisbane so that I could get a new liver. A gift of life."
On a Friday night Eoin was phoned and told to come to the hospital – a donor organ was on its way. He was to receive the right lobe (the bigger segment) and a child would receive the left.
"That was October, so I now have two birthdays!" said Eoin.
"Although I have a strong personal Christian faith, the radio playing Eric Clapton's Knockin' on Heaven's Door as I was wheeled into theatre was stretching things a bit so I asked the nurse to turn it off!"
Almost immediately after the transplant, Eoin was feeling so much better. He never had any rejection, but he had experienced infections. Eoin was a Deputy Principal when he nearly died in Japan and has been the Rector of Gore High School for many years now.
"I have been able to sustain that leadership role only because of the transplant. More importantly, I have seen my three children grow up and have given my daughter away at her wedding.
"To my great surprise, a recent ultrasound revealed that I now have a liver with two lobes. It has grown the left lobe all by itself!"
Eoin said he wished to honour all medical specialists who have helped recipients in so many ways. "You are our heroes. I have been seriously sick in three different countries and in every one I can not speak highly enough of the quality of care that I have received. Thank you."
A poignant end to Eoin's talk reminded the congregation why they were gathered at Knox Presbyterian Church:
"To those of you who come today with the pain of having lost a loved one – I say a very sincere and heart felt thank you on behalf of all of us here who have received the gift of life. That gift, whatever it may have been, has made the world of difference for people like me."
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