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Williamsport woman takes one day at a time after liver transplant

July 16, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT - About four years ago, Darlene Kirby's life began to fall apart, and she wasn't sure what was happening to her.

"I'd fall asleep at my sewing machine," she said of her work at B&B Embroidery in Williamsport. She was also having pains in her side and problems remembering how to do the simplest things.

One night, for example, Kirby got up, went to her kitchen and proceeded to take cans out of the cupboards, stacking them around the room.

Later, she said she accused her husband, David, of doing it because she had no memory of the events.

She was only 50 years old, so she knew something was wrong.

"I went to my doctor and he ran a lot of tests," she said.

When the diagnosis came back as cirrhosis of the liver, she was dumbfounded. She wasn't a drinker.

Her doctor told her she had a variety of the disease known as non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. The doctor told her it was a silent killer and that it had been stalking her for about 10 years.

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"I went on the list for a liver transplant at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore," Kirby said.

Meanwhile, she kept getting sicker and sicker as she waited for a liver.

"My lowest point was planning my own funeral arrangements," Kirby said.

On Nov. 4, 2007, the call came that a liver compatible with her AB-positive blood was available and that she must got to Johns Hopkins Hospital immediately.

"We left right away, and, even though I was so excited, I fell asleep on the way there," Kirby said.

After the operation, Kirby was in the hospital for 15 days. "David was in my room 24 hours a day," she said.

The recovery period at home had its ups and downs. But Kirby said she was determined to be in the Christmas cantata at her church, Calvary Temple in Williamsport. And with her husband's help, she was.

In January, Kirby gave testimony at church and sang "One Day at a Time." The congregation gave her a standing ovation.

Kirby said she wouldn't have made it had it not been for her employers and co-workers at B&B, local businesses who had fundraising jars for her and her family, who stood by her through her ordeal.

The ladies auxiliary of the church made and delivered meals to her home when she came home from the hospital.

Kirby, who is on medication to prevent organ rejection, said she feels better as each day passes. She hopes to be able to go back to work part time soon.

Married for eight years, Darlene and David Kirby have children from previous relationships.

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