Dual Organ Transplant Saves Man Whose Brother Died of Same Disease

One month after receiving a kidney-liver transplant, John McGowan was back at work. He’s grateful for the life-saving opportunity his brother never had.

John McGowan had known for a long time about his diagnosis of hemochromatosis — a disorder that interferes with the body’s ability to absorb iron and can sometimes lead to organ failure. John’s brother Eugene had succumbed to the same illness.

Over time, John’s liver and kidney function deteriorated. He became so ill that doctors felt he would need a dual liver-kidney transplant in order to survive. John was placed on the transplant list at Mount Sinai and within four days received three calls regarding potential organ donors. The third call was "the call" that gave him his new lease on life. John, an attorney, returned to work just one month after the transplant surgery.

Thanks to an organ donor, John and his wife, Peggy, can enjoy their daughter Caroline’s upcoming high school graduation and celebrate many more milestones together. John’s donor is always in his thoughts. He writes a thank you letter to his donor family every year around his "second birthday," the day he received his transplant.

"Having a second chance at life changes how you think about the gift of life, John said. "Your family, friends, job, and yourself — enjoy them every day, because no one knows what tomorrow will bring."