“Greater love hath no man than this than a man laid down his life for his friend”, but the story below as told to the Observer newspaper is what one call the real meaning of wehat if meant to love someone. This is unselfish love and a great many people can learn from this stories and realise to truly love another humn being is to literally lay your life on the line for them.
MANY men give their hearts on marriage, but on finding out that his wife of three months had cirrhosis of the liver, Richard Alveranga, a New Yorker with Jamaican roots, went further, donating more than half of his liver-69 per cent to be exact—to rescue her from death’s door.
Now, thanks to this selfless gesture, which saw the couple undergoing over 20 hours of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic earlier this year on Valentine’s Day, 30-year-old Valentheia Alveranga enjoys good health.
“ I wanted her to live because she probably would have died within six months if I did not do it,” said Richard, 32.
“I was a little nervous, but I guess it was just because of my love for her why I did it,” said Richard, adding that he read a lot of literature on liver transplant procedures and its success rate. The two, who met in an apartment complex in 2002, fell in love after scores of emails and telephone calls. They married some three years later at the St James Pentecostal Church in Ohio, founded by Valentheia’s grandfather.
“We had just come back from our honeymoon when I started to feel dizzy and nausea and then later my menstrual cycle became irregular and I thought that I was pregnant so I went to the doctor,” she said. Tests undertaken by doctors, however, revealed that she had the chronic liver disease and required a transplant procedure in order to remain alive.
“I was dumbfounded. I just could not believe that I had the disease,” she told the Observer West on Monday during an exclusive interview at the luxurious Sandals Montego Bay Resort where the couple is vacationing.
“From there on I was sick 90 per cent of the time. I was in and out of hospital. I visited a lot of doctors, did a lot of surgeries including the removal of my gall bladder, haemorrhoids…. and we found out that I had to have a liver transplant, ” she continued, adding that the doctors who had attended to her could not believe that her liver was so badly infected at such and early age.
“They just could not believe…I was not doing a lot of things that cause the disease such as smoking, drinking of alcohol, and there is no family history,” she said. Cirrhosis is a condition whereby scar tissue replaces the healthy tissue of the liver, causing it to shrink and harden. Said to be the twelfth leading cause of death by disease, the condition affects men slightly more than women.
With death knocking at her door, Valentheia was placed on a “transplant list” at the Cleveland Clinic. She was however doubtful that she would secure one in time, since there was a long list of persons needing liver transplant procedures, and her family members because of healthrelated issues were disqualified from being a donor.
But Richard, who has degrees in computer programming and sports management, volunteered to donate the lion’s share of his liver to his spouse.
After undergoing a battery of tests to ensure compatibility, Richard and Valentheia, checked in at the clinic, under the anxious eyes of friends and family, almost five years after tying the knot. Immediately after the surgery Valentheia said, she developed a plethora of complications, resulting in severe pains. Today however she is in good spirits, although she is still on medication.
Richard on the other hand, had minor discomfort.
“I am just grateful to my husband. It was a big decision on his part… and I am just happy that he loved me enough to do it on his own because I would not have asked him to do it, so I am just thankful,” said “Valentheia, having quit her job at the Sky Bank due to ill health, now plans to pursue a culinary arts course and to have children.
May their love forever shine like the beacon of light that it is.