Liver Transplant Recipient Grateful for Gift Many People Don't Receive

By  | 

Every year thousands of young people apply for their driver's licenses and have the option to register as donors. It's an important decision that's often left unchecked.

But one Mandan teen says without a gift from a donor she wouldn't be alive.

In October, Miriah Van Dam was going to Minot State University when she came down with flu-like symptoms. She was rushed to the hospital where she found out she needed a liver transplant or she would die.

Her scar is one big reminder of her transplant.

"It's hard to think it can happen to anyone and you can die instantly or you can live just a few days or up to months," said Van Dam.

On Oct. 3, Van Dam was taken to the hospital after sleeping for two days and vomiting blood. She says she doesn't remember what happened.

"This can't be me. I can't be the one that had this," said Van Dam.

But her mother remembers and describes the day as a nightmare.

"Definitely not a phone call any mother ever wants to get. It was the longest 100 miles I have ever driven," said Darcy Severson, Miriah's mother.

Van Dam was diagnosed with Budd-Chiari a rare blood disorder that formed three large blood clots in her liver, as well as Jack 2 Mutation. Her body was swollen with fluids.

"I was 130 pounds, 135 and I gained up to 275 pounds," said Van Dam.

Doctors bumped her to the top of the transplant list.

"She would have died. I mean she would not have been able to live with the liver she had," said Severson.

Five days later a gift came from Illinois.

"Obviously whoever it is was our guardian angel. Saved my daughters life, definitely," said Severson.

The road to recovery has been bumpy. Van Dam's liver has rejected twice, she won't be able to have a drink on her 21st birthday and doctors say she shouldn't have children. But that's not keeping her from giving.

"The minute I got my license I became a donor. I never expected to have a donor help me. I was the last person to expect to have this," said Van Dam.

Van Dam couldn't be more grateful to be given a gift that many people don't receive.