Blakely Humber: 31 Years of Community
Fortunate enough to have lived healthy for most of her life, things started to change for Blakely Humber in 1994 when she began experiencing random waves of nausea. Subsequently, during her routine physical, her liver numbers came back slightly elevated. She had several hospital visits before finally getting diagnosed with Auto-immune Hepatitis.
After being told she would one day need a transplant, with the help of meds, Blakely mostly returned to her normal life. However, in August of 1998, she began to experience those same bouts of nausea again.
That Thanksgiving she found herself with more nausea and extreme chills and she realized that her illness had progressed. Her doctor told her she’d have to medically retire, rest, and wait on the transplant list for a new liver.
In February of 2000, she was called to her transplant center as a backup recipient but ultimately, in September of that year, her prayers were answered and she received her new liver.
It was not a seamless process. Just a week after the surgery, she went through a major rejection when her bile duct leaked into the new organ. She also experienced three other mild rejection episodes for several years, but throughout the entire process she told herself “God handle this, I can’t.” Thankfully, her prayers were answered and she has been completely healthy in the last ten years since her transplant.
The entire experience gave her a new perspective on life. She realized “people take life for granted, [she] found a new appreciation for all forms of life. One of [her] favorite things to do now is just sit out on the porch, look at the trees, listen to the birds, and experience all of the life around [her].”
Upon her recovery, Blakely knew she wanted to maintain a community with other people who had gone through the same experience as her. She went to as many GTF events as she could, “really enjoyed the TnT events,” and spread the word about the foundation to anyone who would listen. At her first GTF event since her transplant she was told, “you don’t look like you’ve been sick a day in your life!”
Through GTF’s gatherings, Blakely has built a tight knit group of transplant recipients who talk on the phone and meet for lunch regularly. She found a community of people with shared experiences that bond them immediately. She believes that “you can’t get down in the dumps and wonder “why me?” Life is what you make it and you must find the positives. Through this experience I made some lifelong friends! Don’t worry about the past, focus on the day that God given you.”
“GTF is just wonderful,” said Blakely when asked what the foundation represents for her. “So many people are so afraid about transplant when they first hear the word, but with GTF there’s always help, never give up. They will do everything they can to help anyone get through it and the options they give you to help yourself and keep your mind off of things are truly amazing.”
Being a part of a community is important at every stage of life. We are glad to have Blakely in our transplant community and as part of the GTF family!
To find out more about upcoming GTF gatherings, please visit: https://gatransplant.org/our-events/