Transplant, recovery to be a family affair

For David Jackson, life with an auto-immune disorder has been an extended battle.

As a member of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, and more recently as a Stanly County Deputy Sheriff, Jackson has undergone multiple surgeries and endured countless medications since being diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and ulcerative colitis more than 30 years ago.

Then, in 2019, doctors at Duke Medical Center determined that the next step for Jackson would be a liver transplant.

The road since then has taken an up-and-down route, according to his daughter-in-law, Shannon.

“During 2020, his health improved, but grew worse during 2021,” she said.

David’s wife, Kristi, added, “He got sick again around Christmas (2021), and it was determined that his gall bladder and spleen were enlarged.”

Being on the transplant list is often an extended ordeal, and a compatible donor is not always found. The pursuit of a donor often necessitates regional, national and even international searches. But, with PSC, the option of finding a living donor, in which case a person who is determined to be a match donates a portion of his/her liver to the recipient, was in play.

As a result, the search ended almost as quickly as it had begun when Cameron, the Jacksons’ younger son, was tested and found to be a match.

“It could have been quite a long wait, but then Cameron stepped in,” said Kristi, who said “he was ready to go to the hospital and get it done as soon as he found out.”

The transplant, scheduled for early March at Duke, will require significant hospital stays for both the donor and recipient, said Shannon, a pediatric nurse at Duke.

“Cameron will be in the hospital seven to 10 days and David will be in for at least two weeks after the surgery. And David will need to stay close by (to Duke Medical Center) for about a month after that,” she said, citing the need for frequent testing and lab work to monitor his recovery.

And the elder Jackson son, Brett, will be part of the recovery team, as he will serve as brother Cameron’s caregiver during his post-surgery recuperation.

According to David, living with PSC has necessitated changes in lifestyle as the disease progressed.

“We’ve had to take extra protective precautions during COVID,” he said. “It has made us take the virus a lot more seriously.”

In addition, David, who has been highly active in the community as well as in his job, has been forced to observe additional physical restrictions, including a special diet and weight limits on items he lifts.

“No unnecessary risks,” he said.

Despite the changes his medical condition has necessitated, Jackson describes himself as “so blessed” as his family and others in the community have provided assistance, prayers, and donations.

“We are hoping to get this turned around,” he said. “And I would like to be able to help others in the future.”

For those wishing to assist the Jackson family, there are a number of options.

● Those wishing to send notes of encouragement may do so either by e-mail at davidneedsaliver@gmail.com, or by sending postal mail to David Jackson, c/o Brett and Shannon Jackson, 1105 Barrow Nook Court, Apex, NC 27502.
● A Go Fund Me page has been set up by which donations to

assist the family during the recovery period may be made. The web address is https://gofund.me/3296f3e8.

● On March 4, dinner will be served at Rosebriar Restaurant (528 Wiscassett St., Albemarle) from 5-8 p.m., with 10 percent of all proceeds going to David’s medical fund.

● To learn more about becoming an organ donor, go to: http://www.donatelife.net or https://www.donatelifenc.org/.