Local family celebrates gift of life on Mother’s Day

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

As families across the country celebrate Mother’s Day, one local family is celebrating a gift that keeps on giving.

Maryjane Mabie, a mother of two from Neillsville said she started to feel sick about 12 years ago.

“I didn’t know what was going on. I kept retaining a lot of fluid. They told me my liver was failing and that I should have a pump on it. It was supposed to lower the blood pressure but it didn’t lower it enough,” Maryjane said.

Five months later Maryjane said she was told she needed to go under the knife for a liver transplant.

“They didn’t give me a time limit but said they’d put me on the waiting list. But they also told me that there were 2,614 people ahead of me,” Maryjane said.

Maryjane said she turned to her family and found her daughter Heather Murphy was a perfect match.

Just a few days before Mother’s Day 2001, the mother and daughter endured hours of pioneer surgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital.

Maryjane said she received 60 percent of Heather’s liver.

“At the time we were only the second live liver donors done in the state of Wisconsin, which was pretty intimidating. But the doctors at UW Madison made you feel that anything was possible,” Maryjane said.

Both women said they’ve fully recuperated from the surgery.

10 years later, the mother and daughter celebrated Mother’s Day at their family home in Neillsville on Sunday.

“Every Mother’s Day is very special. Every day is special but Mother’s Day is a good reminder,” Maryjane said.

Heather said there was no question whether she would donate part of her liver to her mother.

“She faced eminent death. It wasn’t difficult at all to step up and offer,” Heather said.

For the past 10 years Maryjane and Heather have been telling their story to various groups, encouraging everyone to consider donating their organs.

“Every person who donates an organ is a hero to me,” Maryjane said.

“Even if you don’t know the person; what a difference it can make in their lives,” Heather said.


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  • by Maryjane Location: Neillsville, Wi. on May 10, 2011 at 08:10 AM
    If one person decides to donate their organs, this will be SO worth it!
  • by WI wife on May 9, 2011 at 10:45 AM
    My husband is a transplant patient as well. His ability to play with our kids, mow the lawn, work at his job is all part of the gift of life he received 7 years ago. If only more people would sign the donor card and TELL their family and friends about their desire to be a donor, many more people would have life. Many more dads would be able to dance with their daughters, take their kids fishing, teach them how to build a birdhouse, etc. More moms could tuck their kids in at night, listen to a story, or offer advice and encouragement on an especially rough day in their child's life. A child could go to soccer practice instead of dialysis, the pool instead of the doctor. Could you imagine the impact we could have even after we are gone? Choose to give life.
  • by David J Location: Nashville TN on May 9, 2011 at 08:51 AM
    The generosity of live organ donors is wonderful. It's a shame we need so many live organ donors. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. About 50% of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 14,500 members, including 255 members in Wisconsin.
    • reply
      by Maryjane on May 10, 2011 at 08:17 AM in reply to David J
      David-thanks so much for posting this information! Of all the gifts one gives and recieves in their lives, none can be more important than organ donation! It was so important for Heather & I to have our story be told because very seldom do you hear success stories and the good that comes out of such a selfless act.
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