In the quest for a liver transplant, patients are segregated by prior alcohol use

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Surgeons remove the liver and kidneys of a deceased donor, for later transplantation.

Owen Franken/Getty Images


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Owen Franken/Getty Images

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Brian Gorzney developed severe alcoholic hepatitis in February 2020. His liver was inflamed after years of alcohol abuse. His only chance of survival was a liver transplant.

Jennifer Evans-Page


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Jennifer Evans-Page

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In May 2021, more than a year after his liver transplant, Brian Gorzney attended his daughter Cameron’s college graduation.

Jennifer Evans-Page


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Jennifer Evans-Page

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More than a year and a half after his liver transplant, Brian Gorzney remains sober and embraces the «opportunity to be somebody that I haven’t been in a while,» he says. Gorzney and his girlfriend Jenny are now engaged.

Jennifer Evans-Page


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Jennifer Evans-Page

More than a year and a half after his liver transplant, Brian Gorzney remains sober and embraces the «opportunity to be somebody that I haven’t been in a while,» he says. Gorzney and his girlfriend Jenny are now engaged.

Jennifer Evans-Page

Today, more than a year and a half later, Gorzney, 52, is still sober and embracing the «opportunity to be somebody that I haven’t been in a while,» he says.

He and his girlfriend are engaged, and he’s grateful to see his daughters, Cameron and Carson, grow into young adults. A lifelong Illinois Fighting Illini football fan, he even considers rooting for the Iowa Hawkeyes now.

But it worries him that the six-month rule, which led his family to travel to three hospitals in three states, still stymies others.

«People are, unfortunately, passing away…not knowing that there may be other options for them because they don’t have a support group that I had that was aggressive enough and strong enough to reach out and not accept no on the first response they got,» Gorzney says.

This story was produced in partnership with KHN (Kaiser Health News), a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues.

  • alcoholic liver
  • liver donation
  • organ transplant waiting lists
  • liver disease
  • alcoholism

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