As the title says, I'm a 27yo German who came to the United States on 6/25/21 on a National Interest Exception. This NIE was granted to me because my motivation to come here was to be tested if I was a match to donate part of my liver to my former host dad.Turns out I was and our surgery was past Monday 7/19/21.

I'm doing this to raise awareness about the possibility of living organ donation and saving a loved one or even a total stranger.

I will check back here throughout the evening/night and also tomorrow, as I have a lot of time to spare in recovery. Ask me anything :)

My proof: https://imgur.com/a/VOlxEdh

Edit: It‘s been 24h - thank you to everyone for your questions, comments, messages and wishes. I‘m very moves by all the positive energy going around and that I could help raise awareness for living organ donation :)

Comments: 490 • Responses: 101  • Date: 

NoeTellusom391 karma

Great to see another host family/exchange kid relationship continuing post-program. We hosted three Germans (but 10 students overall).

One of our German sons visits with us in the USA every other year, we'll see him in October! Other than this surgery, have you all been able to visit over the years?

Hope you BOTH recover well!

mj_xx216 karma

That‘s so great to hear! I‘m sure you‘re looking forward to his visit and thank you for welcoming so many foreign exchange students into your home. It‘s a great service to cultural exchange and international experience!

I came back to Pittsburgh two times since I stayed here and they came to Germany once. I also met up with them in San Francisco and in Copenhagen once. :)

Thanks for your good wishes, we‘re trying hard, haha!

lechevalnoir40 karma

My family also hosted exchange students in Pittsburgh! How nice of you to visit and donate. I wish you a speedy recovery!

mj_xx31 karma

Thank you very much for the wishes and thanks to your family to support international exchange and cultural experience in such a way. :)

Sullhammer377 karma

By donating so much of your liver, how much do you have to change your diet or alcohol intake?

mj_xx1045 karma

In the near future: for the next month, I will have to watch my fat intake as my gall bladder has been removed in the surgery and the bile produced by the liver cannot yet deal with a lot of fat digestion. As for alcohol, I am advised to not drink anything for the next three months. I also have to eat in smaller portions/multiple portions because if my stomach is filled too much, it pressures the inside of the incision.

In the long run: my liver will actually grow back to 98% of its original size, as will the part I donated in my recipients body. This will happen over the course of roughly two months. My liver will learn to produce enough bile to deal with the occasional onion rings and fries, just as before. It will also be able to handle alcohol fine. They do want you to wait three months with the drinking to make sure everything is fine and they also advise you to quit alcohol/cigs/drugs completely but the liver can definitely take the occasional celebration.
So in the long run, neither my diet nor my alcohol intake should be impacted. :)

Sullhammer169 karma

That's great! But if you couldn't have onion rings and beer for much longer than that, then it would be miserable

mj_xx175 karma

Haha true, I really weighed the pro's and con's pre-op in the appointments with the staff and wouldn't have done it if I couldn't live with the results!

IrocDewclaw77 karma

Onions go great with liver, caramelized with some nice farva beans...

Oooooh your DONATING liver which makes this a little off topic.

Doesn't change the fact liver and onions are my favorite meal.

Where are you exactly? Asking for a friend.

mj_xx78 karma

Believe me, heard that joke far too often in the past week, haha. My dad also recommended some apples to the liver and onions.

I‘m originally from the northern most of the German states and have spent my exchange year in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh is also the place we had our procedures done, at UPMC Montefiore Hospital to be exact. :)

deltoidmachineFF152 karma

Wait are you telling me I could be donating half my liver twice every year that'll grow into a full liver too? Damn should we abuse these regenerative powers or what, I mean its not growing any more of itself just sittin there being whole all the time.. 🤔

mj_xx410 karma

Unfortunately, no - I‘m not telling you this. You are only really able to donate part of liver once. This is due to your liver consisting of two lobes. The right lobe accounts for roughly 65% of your livers volume. The left lobe makes up around 35% of your livers volume.

They usually always taking the complete right lobe when you donate. It will never regenerate, but what will happen instead is that your left liver lobe starts growing, slowly filling in the void left by your right lobe.

After recovery you are basically left with one big liver lobe, that was formerly your smaller, left lobe.

If they were to take away from that lobe again, it would unfortunately not regenerate.

Therefor, you can only really donate once.

deltoidmachineFF84 karma

Ohhhh, that kinda sucks, but wait so does the right part also just expand into the gaps on the recipient? It's wild that the body compensates like that.

Also why can we manage without one of them and both can resume normal function? Do they do the same thing? Sry for the barrage of questions 😅

mj_xx105 karma

Yes, it actually does. Indeed it is, I was just as amazed when I learned all this.

We basically have more liver tissue in our body than we need. That‘s why we can take some of it away and the rest can compensate/regrow.

Yes, they do do the same thing, but your right lobe also has your gall bladder attached to it.

Don‘t worry, I‘m trying as best as I can to explain. I‘m not a doctor though, so don‘t blindly quote me in it and if anyone has a more qualified opinion, please step in!

stalient27 karma

So your dad will receive gallbladder and your liver will just take over your gallbladder's functions?

mj_xx64 karma

No, the gall bladder is removed from the liver and is not transplanted.

The recipient will also live without a gall bladder.

Basically the liver will learn to produce bile on demand instead of storing it in the gall bladder.

seclotion15 karma

Why did they take your gallbladder out? Couldn't they just keep the gallbladder?

mj_xx7 karma

I think this has been answered very well already.
It definitely plays its part in digesting fats, but as said before - your liver usually gets used to that if you don't overdo it and I also see it as a possibility to generally limit my fat intake. :)

deltoidmachineFF17 karma

Awesome thanks for doing this AMA ( and donating part of your liver / gallbladder of course :)

mj_xx20 karma

It is my pleasure, thanks for asking so many good questions! :)

chris_xy5 karma

Did the doctors tell you why they take the bigger part and only leave the smaller one?

mj_xx12 karma

Because they can, basically. The liver grows back from 35% of the liver remaining just fine, so the more you can give to your recipient, the more functional it is directly after the procedure is done. :)

abedfilms18 karma

So why 65%? Why not 50%? Or 20% and donate to 3 other people at the same time??

mj_xx49 karma

How much you donate always depends on the recipient, their body type/height/weight etc. 65% is the most amount you can give medically, as you need 35% for it to reliably grow back. It is also usually the amount of liver of your right liver lobe. They like to take the complete right lobe as it makes the healing/regeneration process easier.

Taking these 35% that one needs for the liver to regenerate into account, it is impossible to split one “alive“ liver donation for two recipients as neither recipient would have the required 35% for the liver to grow back in their bodies. I should add, that the recipients liver is always removed completely.

abedfilms8 karma

I was half joking..

So the liver (100%) is actually a left lobe (35%) and a right lobe (65%)? And so you donate the entire right lobe (65%)? And then your left 35% lobe will regen the other 63% right lobe again? Where does the 2% go? And regenerating only takes 2 months? Can you keep doing this over and over? (and start a business chaaa-chinggggg $$$)

And on the recipient side, they remove 100% of their liver (no left, no right lobe anymore), put the 65% right lobe, and that will regen the 35% left lobe?

mj_xx14 karma

Sorry, didn‘t get that one 🙈 I‘ll answer your other questions too though!

The first two of your sentences are correct. The third is not - the left lobe will not grow another right lobe. It will instead expand into one big lobe, that will be around 98% of your original liver volume.

Where the two percent go, I don‘t know!

Yes, regeneration takes only about two months, but since you will not have two separate lobes again, you won‘t be able to donate again.

On the recipient they remove 100% of the old liver and insert the donated 65%. The inserted part will then enlarge and form a single lobe liver too.

abedfilms9 karma

Is a single lobe "worse" than a double lobe liver?

Ah there goes my get rich quick scheme!

mj_xx10 karma

Nope, not in terms of functionality. :)

Sorry to ruin your quick path to wealth, haha!

polypep11 karma

As someone who has had their gall bladder removed, I am interested to hear why they removed yours? Does removing your gall bladder give your liver a break while it recuperates?

mj_xx15 karma

Nope, it comes out as collateral damage. They don‘t have a place to safely put it without it becoming a risk later on. :)

Clownier7 karma

Why did your gallblader have to be removed in this operation?

mj_xx10 karma

Because the have no safe spot to put it into after the right lobe is gone, I think. So it comes out as collateral damage.

Clownier12 karma

It's a nice thing you did. You are a kind person.

mj_xx7 karma

Thank you, I‘m sure you‘d do the same :)

Clownier12 karma

I don't think I would to be honest. You are impressively generous.

mj_xx20 karma

And you know what? That‘s totally okay, too! It is your body and your decision. Don‘t let anyone tell you otherwise or pressure you into anything.

hellcrapdamn9 karma

Yep. Good person confirmed. Unless you have a bunch of bodies buried somewhere.

mj_xx3 karma

SHHHH, don‘t check my basement!

No, jokes aside - nobody‘s perfect. :)

gradstudent12342 karma

why did a gallbladder have to be removed

mj_xx2 karma

It is basically collateral damage, as you don‘t need it to live. They also have no safe place to put it after the surgery. The liver will adjust to the gall bladder gone :)

seclotion2 karma

Will you get back your gallbladder back?

mj_xx2 karma

Nope, that's gone for good, haha.

madogvelkor233 karma

Does your liver now have dual citizenship?

mj_xx277 karma

It does! Made in Germany and U.S. approved, haha!

blbd36 karma

Wir lieben Deutsch hergestellte Werkzeuge.

mj_xx23 karma

Who doesn‘t? What‘s your favorite brand?

blbd10 karma

Metabo because I like to do metalworking for fun.

mj_xx12 karma

Nice, I like Makita - but I only do some basic stuff around the appartment/family properties. Nothing special :)

jesusofsuburbia6 karma

Makita is a Japanese company

mj_xx9 karma

You are totally right, I feel dumb now, hahaha.
I always thought they were German, I don't really remember why now. Maybe because in Germany people always compare Bosch and Makita, so I thought they were both German brands.

Thanks for pointing out my mistake! :)

SVCLIII92 karma

Did they get free de-liver-y?

mj_xx59 karma

HAHA, good one! I love puns, thanks for that one. :) Certainly wasn‘t free, but in terms of usual wait time on a transplant list, a lightning fast one!

KFelts9107 karma

I’m curious what the total cost of this process was. It really bothers me that either donor or recipient would need to shell out for this, but especially the donor.

Edit: I just saw your other comment about the donor not needing to pay out of pocket. Though, I’m sure there are insurance companies out there dying to find a loophole and deny.

mj_xx24 karma

Total cost was about $700-750k. Consisting of my procedures ($160-170k) and the ones of my recipient ($550-600k).

Yeah, the donor never has to pay, at least from what I‘ve been told. Even if the recipient‘s insurance would deny to pay for the donors procedure, the recipient would have to cover, from what I understand.

KFelts91011 karma

Oh my god that gave me a stomach ache.

mj_xx8 karma

Yeah, it‘s not pretty. Get insurance people!! I‘m just sad for people who can‘t afford it.. :(

FntnDstrct66 karma

Could you share some of the nice experiences you had with your host family? Must have been wonderful!

And kudos for doing this, there must have been considerable risk regardless.

mj_xx182 karma

It certainly was wonderful, a once in a lifetime experience that I‘ll be forever grateful for! Prepare for a wall of text, haha!

Let‘s see - generally they supported and drove me to any sport/activity I wanted to do and even came out to see me and my school‘s soccer team in a tournament which was a 2 and a half hour drive away. This was like 3 weeks after I got there. The also encouraged me asking about everything I found interesting and tried to explain as best as they could. If I wanted to go somewhere they tried to make it possible and we visited lots of cool places. They would also take with them wherever they went and kind of expected me to at least try and find it interesting/enjoyable, which can be hard to do with a 16yo, haha. They were insistent on it though, didn‘t let me wiggle out and also made help out wherever I could. Mowing the lawn, painting the porch, helping fix one of their dads house. I think they saw that I really tried to throw my weight in to help out, to be interested and they appreciated it.

Best memories are probably carving pumpkins with them, them taking me to a Penguins game on my birthday, us going to Baltimore and a lot of different food festivals.

It‘s just too much to put down really, but they really helped shape the man I am today and I would do it all again, the exact same way with them. I 110% consider them family and if I ever marry, they‘ll sit with my other bio family.

Sounds like and fairy tale, certainly felt like one and I still don‘t how on earth I earned all that. :)

krazyjakee23 karma

You earned it by giving them 65% of your liver my dude.

mj_xx8 karma

Thank you, although I definitely didn't do it out of a feeling of debt, it was definitely a great opportunity to give something back. :)

Marnett0512 karma

As a host dad currently waiting on his third student to get here... you earned it long before the donation. The things host parents get back from that aren't financial or material, and they enjoy those experiences as much as you do.

I'm always worried about the boring nights at home doing nothing, but that's how life is. It sounds like the important things are what you remember most, not the day to day stuff. That helps me feel a bit better.

mj_xx4 karma

Thank you for being a host dad and helping the international diversity and cultural exchange. :)

I know that host families in the U.S. generally do it out of good will and don't expect anything of it, unfortunately this is no the same throughout the world.

I definitely remember the day to day stuff and the boring nights at home just as fondly, or accompanying my host dad when getting groceries or running errands. It's all one big immersive experience. :)

Thanks you again for being a host dad, the world needs more of your kind!

mj_xx69 karma

As for the risk of the procedure, it‘s actually way lower than you‘d think.

Nationally, in the U.S. a living liver donation has a 0.3% chance of being mortal.

At UPMC, where I had my procedure done, it is actually even lower with 0.1% :)

So for me it was an easy decision to take regarding the risk involved!

FntnDstrct33 karma

Thanks for sharing, your host family sound awesome and we don't hear often enough about people just being good parents / parental figures.

Bonus for the interesting risk statistics!

Wishing you and Host Dad swift and smooth liver (re)growths!

mj_xx21 karma

Thank you so much! We‘re trying, haha.

Prepare_Your_Angus3 karma

I think also if you need a liver in the future you are fast tracked on the list since you donated already.

mj_xx3 karma

That might be true, didn't think about that. Hopefully I'll never need one, but it can't hurt right? :)

KLBPI45 karma

How much pain did you experience post op? Any pain during? Were you nervous at all? How long did the procedure take?

Sorry for all the questions, generally curious

mj_xx68 karma

No worries, I‘m happy to answer them all. :)

  1. During my time in hospital, I was on 10mg of Ketamine/hour for the first two days post-op and 5mg/hour for the other two days of my stay. In addition to that, I took an Ibuprofen every 8 hours, plus a a lidocaine shot if I wanted it every 10 hours and a 5mg oxycodone if I wanted one every 4 hours. I didn’t really experience pain in the hospital 95% of the time, only discomfort from the incision/swelling. If somehow the medication wore off a bit, pain levels never exceeded a 5/10 and were very quickly treated. Right now, six days post op, in a 24 hour period I take: 1x Ibuprofen 600mg at 6am, 2pm and 10pm and one Acetaminophen/Tylenol 325mg at 10 am, 6pm and 2am (I mostly skip that one though). I‘m doing pretty well on that with managing the pain. If I wanted to, I could take a 5mg oxycodone every 4h, but I am trying to avoid taking these as I want to minimize opioids. In general, with this schedule, towards the end of a the stronger Ibuprofen pills, I‘d say my pain level never exceeds a 3/10 and usually, I don‘t feel any pain, only slight discomfort, but with an incision and an operation like this, that is quite normal.

  2. If with “any pain during?“ you mean that if I had any pain during the actual surgery then no. Sound asleep for the whole thing. Pre-op I got an epidural and then some Propofol and 3-2-1 you‘re asleep. If that‘s not what you mean then please specify. :)

  3. My procedure was scheduled to take around 6-8 hours. I don‘t know how they did it but they got done with the surgery after around 4/5h.

KFelts91019 karma

I have to be honest, I’m shocked you’re being permitted to take acetaminophen. That is rough on the liver and I feel like with other options available, that could be avoided.

mj_xx20 karma

Yeah, I thought about it, too. But it‘s “only“ 325mg and these were prescribed by professionals, so I decided I‘ll trust their judgement, in lack of better judgement, haha.

mj_xx6 karma

I could also leave it out and swap in oxy‘s, but that‘s morphine, which I also don‘t want in my body 🙈🤷🏻‍♂️

_That_One_Guy_16 karma

I don‘t know how they did it but they got done with the surgery after around 4/5h.

Duct tape instead of sutures?

Did they use steri-strips (basically thin strips of really strong tape) to hold the incision closed? If so, lighter fluid will take the tape residue off. I had steri-strips after a collarbone surgery and neither soap not rubbing alcohol would remove it.

mj_xx12 karma

They did use internal sutures and steri strips to keep the incision closed and to take tension of it!

Thank you so much, I‘ll totally try that out since I‘ve been wondering how to get that stuff off, haha.

Hiker145 karma

Did you pay for your flights to and from the US for the operation?

What about your hospital fees?

mj_xx103 karma

I would have paid for my flights, but my recipients family wished to cover the cost. They did so for my flight here and will do so for when I return home.

As a living organ donor you don't have to pay for any of the procedures, except for the meds you take home. The whole cost falls to the recipient or to his/her insurance, in case they have one (hopefully they do, cause we're talking some serious amout of money here). In this case the complete cost of my pre-donor evaluation, my pre-op appointments, my surgery and my hospital stay is being covered by my recipients insurance. :)

Isaynotoeverything10 karma

So your German insurance doesn't cover it?

mj_xx32 karma

No, because in Germany too (and I‘m guessing in every other western style country?) the donor‘s costs are covered by the recipients insurance. They do cover for anything related to the procedure that comes up after everything is done. Like long term complications and the like. :)

ljdelight36 karma

Will you soon be a US citizen? I think you made the cut

mj_xx36 karma

HAHAHA, nice one! I don‘t think I will be, but that‘s fine as long as you guys don‘t travelban my country forever. :)

violetgrumble35 karma

Kudos to you for donating and increasing awareness about organ donation!

How long was your host dad waiting for a new liver and was living donation considered from the start? Do you know how many others were tested to see if they were a match?

mj_xx69 karma

Thank you, it‘s an important topic that the world knows too little about, in my opinion.

  1. He was put on the list in April, so three months basically.

  2. I offered to help and get tested immediately after I learned about his conditions in March. It was quite the bureaucratic effort to notify the hospital here of my intention and for them to recognize me, but after that - yes, I was immediately considered as an option and was offered to come in to be tested.

  3. Noone else was tested, as I was one of the first to offer and an immediate match. Unfortunately, given my hosts parents age and them not having kids, they do not have immediate family that would have been able to donate age wise.

KFelts91054 karma

They DO have children- you. Usually we get parts of our parents but your host dad got part of you. That’s a pretty special thing.

mj_xx81 karma

I know, it's what they also say about our relationship. That I‘m the closest thing they ever had to kids. It moves my heart and I was very happy to tell my host dad after surgery that we now are as close to being related by blood as we can get. :)

rumblylumbly21 karma

I never cry at anything on reddit and this literally teared me up. I'm so thankful your host parents have you and the wonderful gift you were able to give them! : )

mj_xx8 karma

I cried a litte when I told him that, too. Not gonna lie, haha!
Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate it and am very glad that I was able to help. :)

princessonthesteeple33 karma

Do you know what the age limit is for being a donor? I had no idea a liver could regenerate to 98% - I would totally be a donor!

mj_xx73 karma

That depends on the country you are donating in. The U.S. allow people to donate until 55, I believe. In Germany, under special circumstances, you might be considered until you‘re 60.

Yeah, neither had I - it‘s crazy to think about. That is so great to hear, maybe you do get to help someone some day. :)

A nice thing they also say is: Think about it, you‘re not only helping the person you‘re donating to, but maybe also the person who takes their place on the list. They will now be getting a deceased organ quicker thanks to you. Which can be huge considering 25% of listed organ recipients unfortunately never get one.

KFelts91015 karma

This is an incredible way to think about it.

mj_xx9 karma

It really is. Definitely changed my view on organ donation, again!

i_made_this_4porn25 karma

You donated your liver to your host dad on my dad’s birthday! Just a funny observation about dads and life! Also, how much of a change from your normal routine did you have to make to prepare for the surgery? Any tips for someone who might want to donate part of their liver? My girlfriend is having liver troubles and if I can give her part of mine I’m going to, might as well start preparing now so that I can be ready if need be!

Thanks for saving someone! I don’t know him, or you, but I’m glad you’re both still here!

Edit: Just saw you’re in/near Pittsburgh! Don’t know if this was home for you during your time here but if not, I hope you get to enjoy our city before you go!

mj_xx30 karma

Haha, funny coincidence for sure. :) Happy late birthday to your dad, happy second first birthday for my host dad, hopefully!

If you live an otherwise healthy lifestyle, the only real thing I needed to do in preparation for the surgery was to stay off of any alcohol/nicotine/drugs 30 days prior to the surgery. That was it for me (27yo, 24-25 BMI, sporty dude), might be different for you depending on your age/weight/activity levels.

Generally, just try to stay healthy, active and, if you can, stay off drugs/alcohol/nicotine. :)

I was a social drinker/smoker and I stopped round easter time this year. I did so, because I didn‘t know when we would be able to proceed with the evaluation due to covid and wanted to be ready at once if I needed to be.

You should also make sure that you are definitely willing to do this and why, because it will come up during the evaluation. However, you can always back out at any minute, if you feel uncomfortable, even if you‘re about to go into the OR. The team will find a suitable medical reason as to why you couldn‘t donate and no one needs to know. :)

KFelts91016 karma

I don’t have any health related questions for you really- but I do have some legally. I’m an immigration attorney so I’m curious how your process went? Did you do the paperwork yourself or did you have counsel help you? Honestly this is a case I would love to work on. It’s for such a good purpose and goes to the heart of why I joined this profession.

Actually, it just occurred to me, I am working a case like this but opposite. I’m assisting a client who is in the process of reopening a denial of her VAWA green card. She needed to travel to her home country to have herself and family members tested for organ donation. I was able to get USCIS to agree to expedite reopening her case and a temporary travel permit.

We’re going to work on another so she can undergo her own liver transplant. She has no insurance here in the US and even getting her US dr. to write a letter verifying her condition was $300. Then USCIS tried to demand a more recent one (it was three months old) but I got that thrown out. The day she got her approval we both cried. Here’s hoping the rest of the process goes smoothly so she can get the liver she needs. Wow- I never realized how impactful this case is. Thank you for making me think about this.

Aside from that, I want you to know you are a good human. Not many people would do something so selfless. I applaud you and I’m in awe of you.

mj_xx18 karma

The local embassy/consulate in the country you are living in is responsible for issuing the NIE. Mind you, an NIE was only necessary because of the immigration ban for Germany in the U.S..

Under “normal“ circumstances, there would have been no trouble to immigrate for the procedure as the length of the tourist visa is determined by the Customs and Border Protection officers upon entry. They will allow you stay according to you circumstances.

For the application of my NIE with the General U.S. Consulate in Berlin, I had to submit an I-131 and an I-134 form, those were filled out by my host dad and sent to me. I also needed a letter of intent signed by the treating hepatologist in the U.S.. You can read it as part of my provided proof. Other than that I needed to send in a scan of my passport and have a valid ESTA.

Once I sent all of this in, the consulate granted me one entry into the U.S. within a 90 day time frame.

I am glad you are interested and hopefully there is something you can do, I don‘t know. :)

Thank you, I believe if put into my shoes, many people would do the same. :)

KFelts9106 karma

That’s incredible. I’m so happy it was a relatively smooth process. I do lots of consulate work. Usually I meet with the client via zoom and we discuss the strategy. I’ll send a questionnaire in order to prepare the forms. I also give a list of needed documentation. I usually write my own attorney letter with the legal arguments supporting the request because a lot of consulate officers are a pain in the ass. They have absolute discretion and there are no appeals. So I’m proactive about addressing and possible thing they could try to use as denial; or politely reminding them that the law permits the travel.

ESTA is so much easier. I will usually tell people not to even bother hiring me for that. They can save money and do it themselves easily. With COVID, so many embassies or consulates are closed and not accepting any applications. So I’m really glad you were able to get through the red tape.

I ended up adding to my comment above because you made me realize that a client of mine is actually the recipient. I’m helping her to get a travel permit while we have her case reopened. So it’s the opposite of yours!

Maybe some people would do this but honestly I don’t think a lot would. Humans tend to be a selfish bunch. So I find your generosity and humble nature to be extraordinary. Here’s to a quick healing process!

mj_xx5 karma

Yeah, out of the four consulates/embassies in Germany, three are closed at the moment. I would have thought at least one per country would be opened.

Wow, sounds like you do an amazing job. Thank you for helping others!

And yeah, ESTA is super convenient. I am always mad when I see someone charging like $100 to set it up for you.

Wow again, good luck to your client! I hope everything works out for her and she has a successful transplant!

Thank you again :)

powerdilf16 karma

How much was the operation in total? U.S. hospital prices are loco.

mj_xx26 karma

The cost of my operation in total was about $170-180k. The recipients procedure was more expensive at around $550-600k. This includes the immuno suppressants that he‘ll need to be on for the rest of his life though. :)

lending_ear13 karma

Man America sucks. I’m glad you did this though! That was really kind of you.

mj_xx9 karma

The U.S. healthcare system could definitely be better. Thank you, I‘m sure you‘d consider doing it, if it were for your family/loved ones. :)

munchee16 karma


mj_xx25 karma

They were incredibly supportive from the start. So was the rest of my family, my girlfriend and basically everyone I have talked to about this.

It still amazes me and played a big part in my decision to go through with it and dealing with the time after. :)

kefi24715 karma


What’s your favorite US candy and what’s the worst? Also how long do you have to wait until you can eat a Döner again?

mj_xx16 karma

Haha, danke Bruder/Schwester!

Favorite U.S. candy is probably skittles and almond m&m‘s. Least favorite is definitely Twizzlers and American chocolate. It just doesn‘t come close.

Probably another month or two until my next Döner :( But absence makes the heart grow fonder!

kefi2474 karma

Can’t stand their chocolate at all except for the more artisanal stuff of course.

What a sacrifice. I‘ll eat one for you while informing myself about donating today. I donated stem cells a few years ago to some older gentleman in Canada but organs are another thing. Not sure if I‘ve got the balls for that. I don’t know anyone who needs a liver or kidney (I believe that’s what you can donate while still kicking?) so I guess I don’t have the same motivation as you.

mj_xx3 karma

Yeah, chocolate isn‘t one of their strong suites! Cookies however are!

Haha, thanks - I appreciate it! Have fun reading up, I certainly learned alot. And who knows, maybe someday you know someone :) Stem cell donation is just as awesome, I think! I hope you could help :)

deletebeep14 karma

How did your host family bring up this topic and were you the one to propose testing for a match or were they?

mj_xx29 karma

We facetime regularly and one time we did, he told me, that he had to be on constant oxygen supply at home now. I asked him why and he explained it to me.

I didn‘t even think about it, but after he finished and explained his options, I immediately told him that I wanted to help and that I‘d at least consider getting tested.

So if you will, he brought up the general topic, but he didn‘t imply or ask me to get tested, I offered it. :)

deletebeep16 karma

That is so sweet. You sound like a wonderful person!

mj_xx6 karma

Thank you kind stranger :)

aegisroark12 karma

Did you receive a letter from the person that got your liver? when I donated a kidney I got a letter from the daughter of the recipient...

mj_xx27 karma

I didn‘t only receive a letter, I was able to receive a hug and share some tears after it was done!

I donated to my former host dad, whom I have known for ten years now. :)

KaseyT120311 karma

Asking the obvious here, but...

Why did you do it?

mj_xx53 karma

Well, I don‘t know if anyone that you love or that is very close to you has ever had a life expectancy of less than two years slapped onto their backs. It‘s kinda hard to explain if you haven‘t been in that situation, but if you are threatened with the loss of someone so important to you and you are presented with the opportunity to make all that go away and allow them a second chance at life, then you don‘t think about it, you just do it.

That‘s how it was for me, at least.

I certainly didn‘t do it for karma, a greater power, money or fame. I just wasn‘t ready to let go of my second that that early and in that way. :)

JB062810 karma

How are you feeling after surgery? It’s been a week right? How is your incision?

I donated half of my liver to my dad almost a year ago (8/5/2020) and I just recently, in the last few months, have finally started to feel back to completely normal.

mj_xx10 karma

I‘m feeling quite good to be honest, I need to pace myself sometimes to not overdue some things. Yes, it‘s been a week. Incision is healing quite well, some uncomfortable pressure here and there of course. I did get an incision from sternum to navel though, might be different if you get one along the ribs!

I‘m glad to hear you‘re starting to feel like your former self again! I hope your das is doing equally well! :)

May I ask how old you are?

JB06287 karma

My incision goes sternum to navel and then off to the right. I have a perfect right angle lol! It’s still tender sometimes right along the incision but other than that it healed up nicely!

Thank for you kind words, my dad is actually doing so much better. For 6 months after the surgery he was in and out of the hospital with complications but the doctors say that the liver is filing the cavity nicely and working as it should.

I was 23 at the time of donation!

mj_xx4 karma

So glad to hear about your dad! :)

Haha okay, mine ends at the navel. Thank you for your input :)

Darksteel69 karma

Had a lot of fun and respect for you reading through these comments.

One thing no one has asked - Do all Germans speak English as well as you do?

mj_xx4 karma

Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate that it was an interesting and fun read!

Many Germans, especially the younger generations, speak very good English!

I for myself had a whole year in the states to learn it, of course. But I also went on to get a Masters degree in English language aswell. :)

m00n5t0n37 karma

How did you hear about your American dad's diagnosis and how did you make the decision to want to donate? How did the conversations with him go?

mj_xx10 karma

We facetime regularly and one day in march he told me, he was supposed to be on constant oxygen supply at home now and I asked why. That‘s when he told me, that his condition had worsened and that he might be needing a liver transplant.

I asked about the life expectancy and the treatment options he had and he told me about living liver donation. By the time he finished talking I had made up my mind and told him that I‘d be willing to help and would consider it, if he accepts it. It took him a few days to accept, but we started preparing right after. :)

xJustLikeMagicx7 karma

Are you an angel?

mj_xx10 karma

I don‘t think so, unfortunately. I have brown hair and I certainly can‘t fly. :(

But I‘m trying to contribute to society and leave my mark on earth. :)

TheTrashCat7 karma

What's a host dad?

mj_xx10 karma

A host family is a family who welcomes a student from another country to live as a part of their family for a set amount of time.

A host dad the dad person of said host family. :)

Intruder3137 karma

Why are you using the ridiculous American date format?

mj_xx27 karma

Trying to blend in 🙈. I can use it fine in writing, in speaking I mostly mess up and fall into the European way though, haha.

mechanismen6 karma

You did an amazing thing, not sure I'd be able to do the same to be completely honest.

Why did they remove your gall bladder during the surgery? Is that standard procedure when donating part of your liver?

mj_xx6 karma

Thank you! Who knows if you could, you might surprise yourself. :)

It is standard procedure, you can see it as collateral damage. They don‘t have a safe spot to put it in after the procedure, as the right lobe is gone.

skurtbert6 karma

What’s your stance on Masters of the Universe:Revelation?

mj_xx3 karma

I have never seen it, so I don't think I can offer an opinion!
Do you think I should watch it?

Feistybulbasaur6 karma

Since the liver grows back, could you theoretically donate a portion again in the future?

violetgrumble12 karma

Answered here

your liver only really regrows once. The second time around wouldn‘t work half as well, I was told by a surgeon. I‘m not sure why though.

I imagine the risk of complications is greater the second time around.

Feistybulbasaur4 karma

Thank you!! I'm wondering if you could still donate a second time though? And just live with half a liver going forward?

mj_xx3 karma

I don‘t know if they would let you. Theoretically speaking, from what I learned, it might be possible. But really just guessing here.

mj_xx6 karma

I came up with the answer after dwelling on it a bit. Copy/pasting from another comment, where I explained it:

You are only really able to donate part of liver once. This is due to your liver consisting of two lobes. The right lobe accounts for roughly 65% of your livers volume. The left lobe makes up around 35% of your livers volume.

They usually always taking the complete right lobe when you donate. It will never regenerate, but what will happen instead is that your left liver lobe starts growing, slowly filling in the void left by your right lobe.

After recovery you are basically left with one big liver lobe, that was formerly your smaller, left lobe.

If they were to take away from that lobe again, it would unfortunately not regenerate.

Therefor, you can only really donate once.

Feistybulbasaur2 karma

Thank you so much for your input and for explaining!

mj_xx2 karma

Thank you for asking amazing questions. :)

Redlocks75 karma

Rotary kid?

mj_xx6 karma

Not Rotary, know a couple kids that came with Rotary though. I came through CIEE :)

Soulfak5 karma

If you press your finger where your less-than-a-half liver is, how does it feel ?

mj_xx14 karma

You can‘t really reach there directly, as the liver lies protected by your ribs. Right under my ribs it feels soft and normal, not really empty or anything. :)

Darlington285 karma

How many cats are too many? And what's up with all that rain? Stay safe and stay dry!

mj_xx12 karma

When talking inside cats: if it‘s going into double digits, you should probably go and see someone, haha. When talking outside cats: none I guess, having kitties around is never a bad thing!

I don‘t know what rain you‘re talking about, 30° celsius here. Send me some clouds if you got any of them, hahaha!

Thank you, you too. :)

MystikIncarnate5 karma

Well, since it's an AMA....

What's your favorite color?

mj_xx3 karma

Tricky one. I definitely like multiple.

If I have to choose one: burgundy red.

If I may list a few: burgundy red, light gray, papaya orange, mint and navy blue. :)

stefanos9165 karma

BTW Are you living in USA right now? If yes how is the place, and how are people there in general? Also is it hard to move there?

Congratulations for what you did, that was really nice of you.

mj_xx13 karma

Right now am I am still at my host parents place recovering from the whole procedure.

I returned back to Germany after my exchange year and have lived there all my life.

I do not plan to move to the U.S. although I have met some of the nicest, most welcoming and loving people here. It‘s just not a place I‘d want to live.

So I can‘t really tell you about the difficulty of moving here, but maybe someone else can. :) I do imagine it to be rather hard though.

Thank you very much, I‘m sure you‘d have considered to help if you were in my shoes!

redburn223 karma

Just curious, how did you like the US vs Germany, and why would you not want to move to the US? Not to say at all that you should want to haha. And I certainly won’t be offended if it’s because you don’t like parts of it - I also don’t like parts of it and I’m American!

Just curious what you thought about one vs the other overall.

mj_xx3 karma

Oh, I love the U.S. - mainly because of the people I have met here and the diversity of the country, but Germany is my home. I was born and raised there and was never one to want to leave permanently.

The reasons why I would not want to move to the U.S. is that I have issues with different things. Some are political, others are social, some are based on laws you have or don't have and I could also not do my job in the way that I would like to do it in the U.S. :)

It's perfectly normal to not like parts about your own country, there are things I don't like about Germany, too. But in the end, it is where I was born and it is where my family lives. So that's something I would never want to give up!

mapleleef5 karma

Has this cured your host-Dad's ailments? I mean, could whatever was wrong come back again? (I hope not!)

I'm glad you are registering pain of 3/10 right now. How is he doing? I'm sure he is still hurting from the surgery but ishe noticing any positive changes/feeling better in some aspects already?

How did your parents feel about all of this? Did you think you would be a match? And what did you need to match, compatible bloodtype?

You are a good egg, OP.

mj_xx10 karma

  1. It did, he suffered from nash caused by a fatty liver and will, if all goes right, be 100% healthy again.

  2. He‘s doing good, still in the ICU for surveillance but out if his bed, sitting in a chair and walking short distances!

  3. My parents were supportive of this from day 1, as was the rest of my family, my girlfriend and all of my friends.

I thought my chances were rather good, I am in good health and in a good age. I also have the semi universal blood type 0+, which enables me to donate blood to every other blood type that is positive.

They check your blood compatibility, but even if it doesn‘t match 100% it can be dealt with. Other than that, you should roughly match in height/weight as the liver you give needs to be big enough for the recipient. :)

Thank you very much, no one‘s ever called me an good egg. That‘s special! :)

Neat-District22964 karma

What are the negative effects for you?

If the liver regrows, why don't more people do it?

How much passive income can you earn by constantly selling parts of your liver and letting it regrow?

mj_xx20 karma

  1. I answered it in details somewhere below. Tl;dr: No negative effects in the long run if everything goes well. For the short run: low fat diet (1m post op), no drinking (3m pos op), no contact sports (4-6m post op).

  2. Because many don‘t know that it actually regrows! I certainly didn‘t know about it before I was confronted with the possibility to help someone. That‘s also why I‘m doing it, to raise awareness for it.

  3. Haha, I wish! No, seriously - it is of course forbidden to sell your organs ($50k fee if you do it in the U.S.) and to be fair, your liver only really regrows once. The second time around wouldn‘t work half as well, I was told by a surgeon. I‘m not sure why though. Otherwise, the only other living organ donations you can do are one of your kidneys, a bit of a lung, skin and of course, part of your liver.

Neat-District22965 karma

Thanks! Maybe a doctor is reading this and can explain why it doesn't work over and over again

mj_xx7 karma

Actually, I came up with the answer after dwelling on it, copy/pasting it from another comment, where I already explained.

You are only really able to donate part of liver once. This is due to your liver consisting of two lobes. The right lobe accounts for roughly 65% of your livers volume. The left lobe makes up around 35% of your livers volume.

They usually always taking the complete right lobe when you donate. It will never regenerate, but what will happen instead is that your left liver lobe starts growing, slowly filling in the void left by your right lobe.

After recovery you are basically left with one big liver lobe, that was formerly your smaller, left lobe.

If they were to take away from that lobe again, it would unfortunately not regenerate.

Therefor, you can only really donate once.

Neat-District22962 karma

Thanks. But why are there two lobes if having one big lobe is just as good?

mj_xx4 karma

I don‘t know, ask an evolution theorists or your maker - whichever you believe in. :)

mj_xx4 karma

You‘re welcome! Yeah maybe, I‘m interested too!

Chesterfield_Queen4 karma

You’re awesome for doing this. I had my left lobe removed five years ago due to a benign tumor caused by oral contraceptive use. My advice to you is to be patient with yourself in recovery. Even a few months out, I was very easily tired. Remember that your body is literally growing the remaining liver to compensate for what was removed, and that’s a lot of work. Take it easy and don’t push yourself. Also, I’m sure you’ve discovered that getting up from laying down is tough. I felt like an overturned turtle when I tried, so for about a month and a half I slept on a couch with lots of pillows propping me up so that it was easier to get up. Hopefully you go back to normal once you’re recovered. Personally, I didn’t get quite back to where I was (digestive issues, especially with fatty foods and liver doesn’t process alcohol like it used to anymore), but I’m tumor free so it’s better than the alternative for me. Wishing you a full & pain free recovery.

PS- can you feel the space left from the missing part? I was able to feel it and it was a super trippy feeling.

mj_xx3 karma

Wow, thanks for sharing your story. I'm happy to hear that you tumor free and in good spirits. :)

Yes, I won't push myself. I've told myself to take it easy, hopefully I will be able to do so.
And yes, I have discovered that getting back up from lying down is tough and an uncomfortable feeling. I have had a bit of a problem finding a comfortable sleeping position, but I have also moved to a reclining couch and sleep while half sitting. That has helped. :)

I'm sorry to hear about your ongoing problems with fat and alcohol digestion, I guess I'll have to see how my body responds. I'm taking the fat digestion as a chance to clean up my eating habits and eat a little more cleanly.

I tried and I haven't really had success yet. Seems like my ribs are in the way or something, haha.

Axes4Praxis3 karma

Did you also donate any onions?

mj_xx3 karma

Haha, no I didn't, but I really should have thought about that and brought some onions when I got here. Would have made for a funny situation. :)

shmodder3 karma

There’s the possibility I might have to donate for a close relative in the future, thanks for all the insight you’re sharing.

How grave was the procedure for you, have you been I pain, are there large scars?

mj_xx3 karma

You are welcome! I hope everything goes well for your relative and if you do end up donating, all the best for you too.

I think I took the procedure very well. I was in ICU for two nights after the surgery and left the hospital after another two nights on the transplant floor after four total days in hospital.

My surgery was exactly a week ago and at no point I experienced a pain level of greater than 5 to 6/10. In the hospital that is of course easily taken care of and at home my pain rarely exceeds a level of 3/10. You do feel uncomfortable though, as the incision (10cm sternum to navel) is of course sore, the skin is tugging a bit and your intestines have to find their place again, after being a little moved during surgery.

Overall, right now, I'd do it again anytime. :)

Sister-Rhubarb3 karma

Respect, man!!

What happened to your host dad's liver that he needed a transplant?

mj_xx3 karma

Thank you kind stranger. :)
I believe he donated it to the hospital, for research purposes. If he didn't choose to do that it would be cremated, I believe.

ieraaa2 karma

How many cats could you battle at the same time and still win? You are allowed one melee weapon of your choice.

mj_xx8 karma

Do you define a melee weapon as being required to be held in hand? Or just a weapon for kind of close quarter combat? Also are we talking domestic or feral cats? So many questions!

If melee=handheld, then my weapon of choice is the shovel and I‘d guess about 10 domestic cats. 0-0.5 feral cats.

If melee=not handheld but CQB, my weapon of choice is a car and I‘d take on every domestic kitty there is. Probably 2-3 feral cats, depends on the car!

tokimato1 karma

I absolutely love your answer. 😂😂 I read thru all the comments in this post and it definitely opened my eyes on organ donation. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Praying for your speedy recovery, may you have blissful life ahead 🙏🏻.

mj_xx2 karma

Thanks, laughing is important and helps me in life very often. :)

Thank you for taking the time to read and for you comment!

Thanks for your wishes and the same to you! :)

dibidellis2 karma

do you drink beer? if yes do you have to lessen it?

mj_xx3 karma

Of course I do, I'm German - I love my beer, hahaha.
And yes, definitely have to abstain from drinking for another two to three month post-op. Once my liver is recuperated and the three months have passed, I'm definitely allowed two drinks a day. Anything more than that is advised against, but should be no problem. :)

torviche1 karma

Why did they have to remove your gall bladder? Is there a connection between liver donation and gall bladder?

mj_xx1 karma

Answered it under another comment in more detail, tl;dr: It‘s collateral damage. You don‘t need to to live and they don‘t have a safe space to put it into after the right lobe is taken out.