AP NEWS

Liver transplant ‘nothing short of a miracle’ for man

December 27, 2016 GMT

Hernia surgery in August turned into a liver transplant for Sonny Morin in November.

One more blood test ordered by his surgeon immediately changed the direction of treatment as Morin was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.

“The tests found a problem with my blood and indicated I was in liver failure,” Morin said. “It was pretty advanced, but had been undetected for years.”

The doctors told Morin cirrhosis is often caused by alcohol consumption, but said Morin’s was due to a genetic defect, not alcohol.

“They said I would have gotten [cirrhosis] eventually, but the fact I consumed alcohol accelerated it.”

Once the diagnosis was made, Morin was placed on the list for a liver transplant and because it was not alcohol-induced, he was not required to wait six months.

“I would not have made it six months,” Morin said.

Morin was first diagnosed Aug. 20 and he received his transplant on Nov. 20. After diagnosis, Morin said it was a battery of tests every week and keeping up on his condition.

“It was all a blur to me, but I got sick really rapidly,” Morin said. “They said they were surprised at how quickly I got sick.”

Then things changed on Aug. 18 when for the second week in a row his ammonia levels got so high.

“When your liver doesn’t function, it doesn’t keep that ammonia out of your system and it goes to your brain,” Morin said. “You pretty much are in a confused state, you don’t even know where you are, what you’re saying.”

On that day, Morin said he “freaked out” and was yelling at everybody in the house so his wife Leslie called the paramedics.

“They said, he’s too combative, so we’re not even going to try to touch him so you need to get an officer over here,” Morin said. “So they sent officer John Stadler — the guy is 6-foot 9.”

Morin said apparently he was combative with Stadler as well, but my wife said he was very professional.

“He was very calming,” Morin said. “He said, ‘Sonny, I’m your friend, I’m trying to help you, I’m trying to save you. Come on and just get in the ambulance and I’ll shut up,’ because I’d been telling him to shut up.”

Stadler and the paramedics finally wrestled Morin into the ambulance and strapped him down.

“He stayed at the hospital for an hour with my wife and my sister comforting them,” Morin said. “They were pretty shook up about the whole thing.”

The next day, Morin received a phone call that a liver had become available. He said he didn’t remember the phone call or much about the trip.

“After surgery in the recovery room, the surgeons told me my ammonia level was so high they were surprised I was not comatose,” Morin said. “When people go into a coma at those levels, they’re dead shortly after.”

Morin was told whoever got him to the hospital and everything else that fell into place saved his life.

“The doctors said it was nothing short of a miracle,” Morin said. “They would have been burying you on Thanksgiving.”

Morin said he is grateful for everything and he is most grateful for how it has brought him closer to God.

“I’ve always been a fighter and loved boxing when I was a little kid, but this is the worst fight I’ve ever had,” Morin said. “But I’d gladly fight it again for where it brought me in my relationship with God. It helped changed me. I cried that night after I got out of recovery, I thanked my Lord and Savior and said ‘wherever you need me to be, whatever you need me to do, whatever you need me to say, I’m all yours now. You gave me another chance at life and I’m not going to mess it up. I’m going to use this chance to serve you.’”

Morin has lost 90 pounds since the transplant, but is feeling better every day. He said the doctors have indicated he has rebounded much faster than they expected.

Morin said there are checkups to go through, but he is thankful for the transplant and second lease on life.

“I want to urge people to consider organ donation,” Morin said. “After I was able, I immediately signed the paperwork to be an organ donor.”

Morin and Leslie have four children, Mariah, 24, Santana, 13, Emiliano 10, and Illiana, 8.