At 44, Brian Beckenridge was fighting for his life. He needed a new liver. Some doctors wrote him off, telling his family Brian was nearing the end of his time.
“Honestly, I was told by his liver doctor that he was terminal, and he needed to go on comfort care (palliative care). I was told he had a few months, at best, to live,” Melissa Beckenridge says.
Brian underwent an evaluation for a liver transplant evaluation at the beginning of 2021. The first hospital turned him away saying he didn’t qualify.
“I honestly figured that was just the answer I was probably going to get anywhere, and I just didn’t have a shot and to kind of live like I was preparing for the worst,” Brian says.
But Brian’s primary care provider, Dr. Stanton Danielson, wasn’t ready to let Brian call it quits. He stepped in to get Brian referred to the University of Nebraska for a transplant evaluation.
“Brian was so ill during the evaluation appointment, they kept him there. If they let him out, he was more than likely going to die,” Melissa says.
After a thorough review, the Nebraska team decided to put Brian on a two month hold due to the discovery of a recent positive drug screening. Melissa called the care coordinator in tears.
“Melissa and I spoke often. When she called me in tears, I knew something was really wrong. She told me about the two-month hold, saying it was pretty much a death sentence for Brian. We both knew he didn’t have two months to wait. It was heartbreaking. So, I quickly got into contact with Dr. Danielson to see what we could do to help,” Laura Lynch, UnityPoint Health Care Coordinator, says.
Dr. Danielson stepped in again to personally talk with the team at the University of Nebraska. He confirmed the drug test was a false positive, and there was no substance abuse occurring. Dr. Danielson knew Brian was too young to die and was a good candidate for a transplant. After advocating for his patient, Brian was approved for a liver transplant.
“It’s solid evidence that extra effort does help. It wasn’t just me doing the heavy lifting either. I’m part of a team working to make our patients, like Brian, the focal point to achieve the best outcomes possible,” Dr. Danielson says.
Less than a week after being approved for a transplant, Brian was notified of a viable liver.
“I think Dr. Danielson went above and beyond the scope of practice and stood up for me. If it hadn’t been for Danielson stepping in, I think my comfort care would have been over by now. He’s the only reason I got a liver. I firmly believe that,” Brian says.
On February 3, 2021, Brian underwent the surgery to receive the gift of life from a donor.
“I’ve been an organ donor for years, just because it’s the right thing to do. But I’m definitely glad there are people out there who are organ donors, because it’s the reason I’m still here,” Brian says.
After 49 days in the hospital and more than two weeks in a special rehabilitation program, Brian is back home in central Iowa. He’s on medication to ensure his body doesn’t reject his liver. Dr. Danielson is helping keep a close eye on Brian’s healing process.
“Before 2017, I didn’t have a primary care doctor. I didn’t go to a doctor at all. It was sort of foreign to me. Had I, I might have known about my liver a little sooner. I think everybody should try to have a primary care provider and keep a good relationship. If Stan could see everyone, I’d recommend him. But I know Dr. Danielson is a busy man,” Brian says.
Brian’s mother recommended Dr. Danielson in the first place. During those early appointments, he learned about his cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, from years of alcohol abuse.
“If I could, I would tell a younger version of myself, you know you’re drinking way too much. My advice to others is when somebody offers you help, swallow your pride and listen. Your health isn’t replaceable. I got off really lucky because of a good doctor and a good family. Not everyone gets that opportunity. So, yes, listen,” Brian says.
Brian is looking forward to working on his bucket list once he has a little more energy.
“Uniquely, sky diving is not on there. I like tools. There are things I’d like to build and projects I’d like to tackle. I’d like to know how to work on vehicles a little better. When my strength gets back up there, and I can move faster, I’d like to play with my almost 2-year-old grandson. But I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to move as fast as he does,” Brian says.