WESTFIELD, NJ — Rob Naulty is in need of a live liver donor.
“Some of you may know that I have liver disease. Over time, my liver disease has gotten worse causing my liver not to work well enough to keep me alive,” Naulty writes in a letter, shared with TAPinto Westfield by his wife, Betsy Naulty.
The family is asking members of the community who would consider donating a portion of their liver to fill out Montefiore Medical Center’s online Live Liver Donor Form, the first step in assessing whether they would be a match. Rob Naulty is undergoing treatment at Montefiore, his wife said.
Living Liver Donation is possible because the liver is the only solid organ that regenerates, Montefiore says on its website.
“A portion of the liver can be surgically removed, and the liver will grow back over a period of weeks, permitting a compatible person to serve as a donor for a recipient in need of liver transplantation,” the website says.
People between the ages of 18 and 55 who are in good health are eligible to donate, Rob Naulty writes in the letter. His blood type is B-negative, and he can accept live donors with blood types O and B, as well as AB and A in some cases. The Rh factor (positive or negative) of the donor’s blood does not affect the viability of the transplant, and neither does the donor’s gender, Rob Naulty writes. All of the donor’s medical expenses would be covered by his insurance, he adds.
Find out more about how to help Rob Naulty at the conclusion of this story.
‘We didn’t know what was going on’
“Last June, my husband became ill, and he was in the hospital a couple times,” Betsy Naulty told TAPinto Westfield. “He had internal bleeding. We didn’t know what was going on.”
Soon after, doctors diagnosed Rob Naulty with cirrhosis of the liver, which is a late stage of scarring (fibrosis) of the liver caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. Over the next few months, Betsy Naulty said, her husband started coming down with infections.
“That’s when the GI doctor said, ‘You need to go see a hematologist, who is a liver specialist, at Montefiore in New York, and I think it’s time to consider a transplant,’” Betsy Naulty said.
Since then, she said, the disease has caused her husband to experience cognitive difficulties.
“His cognitive abilities have deteriorated,” Betsy Naulty said. “He’s still driving, but his cognition is not there.”
“He’s losing the sense of independence and control,” she added later.
Betsy Naulty said her husband, who worked in chemical sales prior to his diagnosis, has been unable to work and is currently on short-term disability. “It’s just very hard for him to stop working after 35 years of working and wanting to work.”
‘Many will die waiting for a liver’
The need for a donation is a matter of life and death for her husband, Betsy Naulty said.
“He will die someday if he does not get one,” she said. “I’d rather not have to wait until he gets really bad.”
Rob Naulty is not eligible for a cadaver liver transplant from a deceased organ donor, his wife said, due to his model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score, which determines transplant eligibility based on a patient’s lab results.
MELD scores range from six to 40, according to the Mayo Clinic. Rob’s score is an 18, Betsy said.
“He will not be considered for a [cadaver] liver until he is in the high 30s, when his medical and cognitive abilities deteriorate more than what they are now,” Betsy Naulty said. “You don’t want to go there. A lot of times people don’t make it, and they die. They go into a coma, and they die.”
“I don’t want to see my husband, who is 62 years old, go into that,” she said.
Over 15,500 patients in the U.S. are on the waiting list for a liver transplant, Montefiore says on its website, citing data from United Network for Organ and Tissue Sharing (UNOS). “There are not enough deceased donor organs for the number of patients waiting, and about 10 percent of patients die on the waiting list each year,” the website says.
Rob Naulty highlights this lack of donor organs in his letter.
“Unfortunately, due to the scarcity of organ donors, many will die waiting for a liver,” Rob Naulty writes. “Many people do not realize that a liver transplant from a living donor is an important option for people needing a transplant.”
‘I would be so grateful’
Rob Naulty is a lifelong resident of Westfield, his wife said, adding that she grew up in Mountainside and later moved to Westfield. “We grew up in this neighborhood,” she said. “This is our home.”
The couple’s daughter Caroline lives with a disorder known as agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC), a condition in which part of the brain is absent, according to the National Institutes of Health. Caroline, 18, is nonverbal and cannot be left on her own, Betsy Nautly said.
In his letter, Rob Naulty writes that his daughter is the reason he remains committed to fighting for his life.
“My greatest accomplishment in life is being a father to my special-needs daughter, Caroline,” he writes. “My wife, who is a nurse, has done an excellent job accompanying me on this journey, but to continue to care for Caroline and watch her grow is what keeps me fighting this disease.”
Betsy Naulty hopes someone will be a match for her husband and save his life.
“If anybody is willing and able, I would be so grateful,” she said. “We would just be so grateful.”
How to help Rob
The Live Liver Donor Form can be accessed at this link: https://www.montefiore.org/live-donor-form. More information on the process can be found by visiting https://www.montefiore.org/living-liver-donation or contacting the following staff members at Montefiore:
Gloria Rothenberg, MSN, FNP-C
Live Donor Transplant Coordinator
Alicia Wright, MSN, AGPCNP-BC
Live Donor Transplant Nurse Practitioner