Tom Williams: My Liver Buddy, and a Profile in Teenage Courage - NECN
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Tom Williams: My Liver Buddy, and a Profile in Teenage Courage



    I am running the 2011 Boston Marathon to raise money for the American Liver Foundation's Run for Research, and will post frequently about my training here, in these final weeks leading up to the race.

    Years ago, when I first became involved with the American Liver Foundation, I had the same misconception that so many have – liver disease seemed like an issue for those who didn't take care of themselves, for one reason or another. It didn't take long for me to realize how wrong my assumption was, and very quickly I met a number of children and adults who were in the battle of their lives, and for their lives, by no fault of their own. In fact, for so many, liver disease is about terrible luck contracting a completely unforgiving disease.

    So many people have asked, “Why are you running with the Liver Foundation – do you have a personal connection?” My answer is, “I didn't, but I do now.” That couldn't be more truthful – over the past several years, I've met so many children and spoken with so many families who are in desperate and dire need of our help, and though I served as Master of Ceremonies for several fund raising Liver Life Walks in Boston, I finally felt moved to do something more. Today's post isn't about my personal decision to run (you can read more about that here), it is instead about one of the many young people who've inspired me to run, and who hopes to inspire you to donate to the Run for Research – my “Liver Buddy,” through the Patient Match Program, designed to pair marathon runners with patients battling liver disease, providing a face and direct connection to the goal at-hand.

    Tom Williams was twelve years old in October 2007, when most of us were cheering on the Red Sox in the World Series, while he and his family were blocks away from Fenway, listening to the fighter jets fly over the ballpark from Tom's hospital room. He was awaiting his first major surgery – what would ultimately be a precursor to a liver transplant – for Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), a rare affliction usually caused when a virus settles in the liver, resulting in scarring so bad it leads to cirrhosis of the liver. In the years that have followed, Tom has endured more than any teenager – or any living creature - should have to, including so many life-threatening ordeals from his liver transplant, to an esophageal bleed, kidney failure, complications from a myriad of procedures and surgeries, along with a cornucopia of pills, weekly blood draws, infusions, tubes, and so many other frightening, probing, anxiety-producing methods of treatment.

    I met Tom for the first time at the 2009 Boston Liver Life Walk (see Tom in the video from 2009, below), when I was serving as M.C., and Tom shared his story with me. An affable, intelligent young man, Tom was at the walk with a feeding tube, because he already had determined he was going to do what it took to raise money for the organization he'd come to know all too well. Tom is the second person I interviewed in the video I shot on that bright and sunny day:

    Tom's story would have a new, major turn, not long after our first meeting. In tomorrow's blog post, I'll bring you up to date on how my “Liver Buddy” is doing, and his determination to move you, and so many others, to donate to the American Liver Foundation.  Click here to donate now - large AND small amounts are appreciated as every dollar counts.

    As a new parent, I give thanks everyday for the health of my baby boy. Whether you are a parent, an uncle or aunt, a brother or sister, a cousin, or simply a friend to a child, I know we all agree that life isn't supposed to be so difficult and scary for children so innocent and wholesome. Please, make a difference and donate to my American Liver Foundation Run for Research today, to ensure life-saving and life-improving treatments, medications and procedures can be realized for these children.

    Previous Marathon Posts from Matt: