Patient Stories

In Second Opinions Lives More Hope

Dec. 27, 2020

Virginia couple came to UC Health in hopes that wife and mother of four could have liver transplant faster.

Beverly and Clarence (Chuck) Griffith never imagined that they would find themselves in a new city, hundreds of miles away from their home state of Virginia. But that is exactly where they currently find themselves after the culmination of a difficult health journey.

The couple of 47 years moved to Cincinnati earlier this year so Beverly could meet doctors at UC Health in hopes of having a lifesaving liver transplant. They were running out of time and hope, so they decided to invest their life savings in a townhouse just south of the Clifton Campus.

Beverly and Chuck grew up in a small town called Beckley, West Virginia, where Chuck was a certified underground coal mine electrician. In 1986, they moved to Manassas in Northern Virginia, where they spent the rest of their careers while they raised their four children. Beverly worked as a teacher for disabled children while Chuck worked as an electrical engineer.

As the years went on, Beverly prepared for retirement so she could enjoy life and focus on her favorite hobbies, such as gardening. Those plans went on hold after discovering devastating news about her health.

Beverly found out that she had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver cirrhosis. She would eventually need a transplant to save her life.

“The doctors were trying to maintain her health with medications. But her condition kept getting worse over the years,” Chuck said.

In 2017, Beverly had varices, enlarged or swollen veins, rupture in her throat. She nearly bled to death. Because of the lack of transplant surgeons in Manassas, Beverly and Chuck traveled to a medical center in Washington, D.C. Doctors placed her on a transplant waitlist, but it was unknown when there would be a donor match.

Time wore on. Beverly’s condition continued to rapidly decline and so did her hopes of receiving a transplant. She and Chuck knew that if they waited much longer, she might not live to get her transplant. They decided to search for other hospital systems to find out if she could be transplanted faster somewhere else. Their daughter-in-law, a University of Cincinnati alumni, recommended they travel to Southwest Ohio and see the specialists at UC Health Transplant.

Despite being nearly 500 miles away, both Beverly and Chuck decided that the trip might be worthwhile. They left their house, four children and six grandchildren, packed their bags and moved their entire life to Cincinnati.

The Road to UC Health Transplant

Upon arriving to Cincinnati, the Griffith couple found a new home near downtown, minutes away from UC Medical Center. At the hospital, they met with Cutler Quillin, MD, UC Health transplant surgeon and assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the UC College of Medicine.

“It was very clear from the moment I met Beverly that she was very sick,” Dr. Quillin explained. “After meeting her and her family, her rapid decline became apparent, and I knew that if we did not transplant her soon, she may be too sick to undergo the operation.”

Dr. Quillin and UC Health’s transplant team explained to Beverly that she would be able to receive a transplant much faster if she was dual-listed at multiple transplant centers. Additionally, UC Health performs transplants for patients much faster compared to other healthcare systems. In 2019, the  transplant rate was 17% faster than the national average.

Beverly decided to join the transplant list in hopes that doing so would accelerate her chances. Turns out, she was right. Eight days after moving to Cincinnati and being added onto the second transplant list, doctors told Beverly they had a liver match for her.

“It really surprised us. We are so thankful,” Beverly said.

On Sept. 9, 2020, Beverly came to UC Medical Center for her procedure. Dr. Quillin performed her transplant hours later.

When she woke up the following day, Beverly already noticed a difference in her condition, however, also knew that her recovery journey would be challenging. After spending five days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Beverly traveled to the Daniel Drake Center for Post-Acute Care to begin rehabilitation.

Chuck remained by her side through the journey, even when COVID-19 visitor restrictions limited their time together. He visited when he could, and he now takes her to her post-transplant appointments at the UC Health Hoxworth Building. Beverly’s care team kept him informed of her progress, whether it was in person or over the phone when he could not be onsite.

“Everyone was always good at explaining things. From the doctors to the pharmacists, they were great,” Chuck said. “We felt like we got specialty care throughout.”

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unexpected challenges for Beverly and Chuck throughout the journey, but they remain optimistic and always feel safe when they are on the Clifton Campus.

“We always feel safe. Everyone there is wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. We make sure to wash our hands frequently, too,” Chuck said.

It has now been three months since Beverly’s liver transplant. She continues to make progress every day, and looks forward to finally enjoying her life in retirement once she fully recovers. She cannot speak highly enough of her UC Health care team.

“They were wonderful,” Beverly said. “Dr. Quillin would stop by and see me, even if he had worked all night.”

Beverly and Chuck took a real chance on coming to Cincinnati, investing their entire life savings and moving to an entirely new place. At the end of the day, they believe it was well worth it.

“She was going downhill so fast that she didn’t have much time left on this earth. The quickness of the liver being available in this area was amazing,” Chuck explained. “That was the most amazing thing about it all to us, after spending all of the time we did around Washington, D.C. Then, we came here and they had one in a couple of days. It was unbelievable. To us, it is like a miracle. The doctor told us that if we knew people who might need a transplant to send them over. And we do know people who we’ve told to come to Cincinnati.”

Beverly and Chuck remain grateful for the support from their friends and family, and hope that others will take the same chance as they did if they need transplant care and come to Cincinnati for another opinion. No matter the distance.