Whatever happened to: The guy who needed the liver transplant?

Last March, I wrote about Joel Beeson, a journalism professor in West Virginia who was all set to be the recipient of a new liver — via “living donor” transplant — when the Cleveland Clinic lowered the top age of donors to 55, and his donor was older than that.

“It is unlikely he will survive long enough to get a cadaver liver,” his wife told me. So they waited for a living person to donate a portion of their healthy liver. And waited.

Things got bad in September. He had a negative reaction to 68-80% of the general population pool, because of antigens he’d developed.

And then Rachel Fetty stepped forward.


He got a piece of her liver in October.

(Photo: Livr4Joel Facebook)

He was released from the hospital in November.

Unfortunately, I’ve so far been unable to get a medical update on Mr. Beeson.

  • Is Rachel Ferry, the living donor, recovering well?

    After all, 40% of living liver donors experience complications, and 20-30% suffer from depression, anxiety, grief and/or PTSD post-donation.

  • Rachel Fetty

    Hi, My little girl is doing a science fair project on liver donation and I found your piece and inquiry. I am doing very well. Like many donors I experienced some discomfort and fatigue for the first couple of months, but I don’t think it was much more than anyone with a serious abdominal surgery. The most intense discomfort was from the naso gastric tube and shoulder pain relating to positioning during the surgery. I was able to manage any pain I had by alternating fairly low doses of Advil and Tylenol. I made myself walk a little further every day and was able to jog a slothy 5 miles around month 4. Today, (about six months out) I have an awesome scar and a little tingling and discomfort around the scar. I have been very lucky and blessed to do so well. I do have to say I worked hard at being a “model donor” ate well, exercised daily and focused on having a positive, and prayerful outlook. I would never say someone else should be a living donor. That is a decision that should be made with great care and deep introspection. I can only say I have not regretted my decision to donate for a single second. It is a great joy to me to see Joel washing his car and driving his kids around. I know things could have turned out very differently for us all.