Passengers Give Up Their Seats So Man Can Get Liver Transplant Just In Time

I just love this good news story. John McSorley needed a liver transplant and has been waiting for one the entire year. Facing death, he and his wife continued living their lives. They flew to a conference in Minnesota together. As soon as they landed there was a voicemail.

Once we landed, we both turned our phones on. We were sitting next to each other. We both looked at each other at the same time in our seats and we were like, ‘Do you have a 513 number with a voicemail?’

A liver had been found – and it was back in their home of Cincinnati. He had to be back within hours for the surgery if he wanted the new liver that would save his life. There was only one flight that would get him there. That Delta flight was about to leave – and it was sold out.

In January the doctors said McSorley needed to have his affairs in order – but also to “always have hope.”

A Delta agent said, “We got you. No matter what, we have you. ..There’s one flight that is available and it’s leaving in a few minutes. You need to run to Gate 6.”

The gate agent asked for volunteers. There weren’t any. The plane was boarding. An agent made an announcement on the aircraft, telling everyone that they needed the seats for an emergency liver transplant. That’s when “15 or 20” passengers pressed their call buttons, “lights above went on” and the McSorleys made it back to Cleveland.

The surgery was a success. John McSorley is grateful to the person who donated their liver, to the passengers who gave up their seats and the surgery team who performed the procedure – and to the Delta agents that got him home risking D0 to do it.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. This is wonderful!

    However, people might not know that liver transplants are sometimes in people who are alcoholics or drug users who got hepatitis. Among organs transplanted, liver transplants are the most likely of all organ recipients because of preventable self destructive behavior.

    Still, I would likely volunteer my seat.

  2. @derek – Yes, and from transfusions, or other factors COMPLETELY OUT OF THEIR CONTROL!!!
    Why ruin a completely wonderful story with this?

  3. @ Derek — Good thing you aren’t in charge of allocating livers. Did you also know that if everyone would sign up to be an organ donor, there wouldn’t be a waiting list?

    BTW, hepatitis is not only transmitted via “self-destructive” behavior.

  4. @Derek
    Even if one gets a liver infected with hep virus, did you not know that it is treatable after transplant?

    If you got your info from the internet, did you not come across the treatable part also?

  5. @paul – derek did write “sometimes”. So yes, sometimes, chronic liver disease is for reasons no one can explain, but sometimes it isn’t.

    @Gene – vast majority of modern US cases of hepatitis C are due to IV drug use. Transmission by blood transfusions are down to one in a million.

  6. @ Derek — Good thing you aren’t in charge of allocating livers.

    Wake up. That is a criteria. If you are an alcoholic and ruined your liver, that info is part of the wait list decision. Basically, if you are still drinking, you might not get a liver.

    Some people (not all people) have destructive behavior that caused them to need a transplant. I never wrote that such past behavior should exclude them. In fact, they should be included but their current behavior part of the evaluation.

    Did you know that if you are unreliable in taking medication, you may not get a transplant? That is because if you stop taking the anti-rejection medication, the transplanted organ will likely not survive.

    Every kind of organ transplant has a sub-population of people who did bad things that caused their need for transplant. Not everyone as I note “sub-population” Some people do not control their blood pressure by not taking their medicine regularly or keep eating a salty diet or keep eating sugars despite being diabetic. They then kill their kidneys.

    In terms of self destructive behaviors, I think such behavior causing a need for liver transplant is the most common. Kidneys are probably next. Corneas are not often the result of people doing bad things (like not wearing their contact lenses properly). Hearts are also not too often the result of bad behavior.

    Whether this person on Delta needed a liver because of stupid behavior or through no fault of his, it’s great that he has a new lease on life with a new liver.

  7. Great story, Gary, thanks for posting it.

    Is the story about a return to Cleveland or Cincinnati? You have both referenced.

  8. Stupidity is not limited to being in need of an organ. Donation is, too.

    Many organ donors are eligible for donation because of lapse in judgment. It could be suicide. It could be driving drunk. If you live a careful life, you might live well past retirement age, at which time your organs are useless. Your skin could still be used, however.

    I mention this not to discount the honor that organ donors are due because they did check the organ donation box on their driver’s license application. They did a good thing.

    Basically, we should recognize the truth but not be too judgmental. True, donors and recipients may have done stupid things. True, some donors and recipients didn’t do anything stupid or wrong. To the extent possible, society should try to help if there are the means. For example, food stamps. A good thing to have. However, society is not rich enough to say “free food for all”, “Safeway and Kroger are eliminating cashiers, just take what you need, they will be reimbursed by the government”.

  9. We are seeing more and more liver failure due to NASH. No hepC, alcohol. If your doc tells you you have fatty liver, take it seriously.

    Way to go Delta!

  10. @Derek…..You are totally ignorant on this subject. I have an autoimmune disorder that effected my liver. I had a liver transplant 3 years ago that saved my life. I am active in organ transplantation and getting the word out to others. Unfortunately a lot of people do not sign up to be organ donors due to their ignorance which is such a shame. Never in a thousand years did I ever imagine I would ever need a transplant when I was younger. You never know when something like that could happen to you or a loved one.
    Thank you to Delta!

  11. What a wonderful thing! My daughter received s life saving liver transplant at 9 months old. She had never touched alcohol. Today she is 26 years old. Not everyone who gets a liver transplant is an alcohol. Most aren’t. Also most transplant centers have criteria that you must be sober for 6 months to a year.

  12. Glad it worked out for him but he’s an idiot for travelling in the first place. I was on waiting list for heart transplant over 4 months, thankfully got one last Sept. Hospital told me while on list not to be anymore than a couple hours drive away because call could come anytime without warning. Not worth the risk

  13. I was taken back by some of the comments – so I did some nosy research. I found this beautiful family on Facebook! He isn’t a POS … he didn’t do this to himself, and he has a wife and children. And what an amazing story! He is more than Deserving (and even if he did do it to himself, why shouldn’t he have an opportunity to live)

    Everyone has/ does sin. One is not greater than the other!

    Here is some information

    Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic bile duct disease that damages the bile ducts inside and outside the liver. Bile ducts carry bile from the liver to the intestines. … PSC affects about twice as many men as women. Many PSC patients are asymptomatic at the time of diagnosis.

    Thank you to the people that gave up seats! Thank you to Delta for doing the right thing.
    I have no affiliation with this family. All I can say is God Bless them all, and I will continue to pray for this beautiful family!

  14. Alcoholism is hereditary and an illness believe it or not….my husband received the gift of life 10 years ago…a thriving business owner he had been for years…the gift of a liver gave him a 2nd chance at life…our son was 6 at the time…he is a fantastic father and coach to our son…being an alcoholic didn’t make him a bad person…he thanks god everyday for the gift and the 2nd chance and gives back anyway he can.

  15. Actually most liver transplants are due to diseases and not alcohol or drugs. Plus all centers require a year of proven sobriety through blood and urine tests BEFORE even being eligible to be put on the list. There was a conference for PSC. The same rare disease as Walker Payton and myself who received a liver at 39 years old.
    It is unfortunately a common misconception/myth that most are due to preventable causes.

  16. Also organs are NOT useless if over retirement age. Another misconception. The liver in a healthy person regenerates itself and patients are given the option of receiving an “older” liver. Please go to the UNOS site to get factual information and statistics. People believe theses things because they are uninformed. Let’s take the opportunity to share facts and dispell these myths.

  17. Some of these comments are ridiculous! Alcohol and drugs are not the only reason for the need of a liver transplant. There are 3 autoimmune liver disorders: Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC), Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). And ANYONE can get these autoimmune disorders.. they are not from lifestyle choices and not contagious. And many people require a liver transplant due to these autoimmune disorders.

  18. Derek: all transplants are not from self destructive behavior. I never smoked and haven’t drank alcohol in 32 years, and I needed a double lung transplant last year. Stop painting everyone with such a broad stroke brush

  19. There are a number of autoimmune liver diseases and diseases that are not linked to alcoholism.. The number afflicted with these diseases is growing and it is beyond their control… Educate yourself before opening you mouth.

  20. My 13 yr old daughter was a multi organ donor. It makes absolutely no difference to me if the people she saved were drug users or saints. She saved a life! We are all worth saving.

  21. My partner needs a liver and intestine transplant and they don’t know what caused the blood clot which caused him to have many complications. He almost died several times and had to have his portal vein and artery to be disconnected, very rare procedure. He is/was never a drug addict, he did drink occasionally on the weekends. Any body can get what my partner has, anyone. I hope no one does. The pain and heartache he goes through……all he wants to do is work but can’t.

  22. To Derek. I am a liver transplant recipient, November 2017. I am very thankful and always extremely grateful to my donor and his family. I think of them each day – what a gift! Something so generous from the loss of their son. It matters not the cause of my need and shame on you for being so judgmental! I am thankful you are not on a selection team somewhere. The criteria is very strict with tissue match, size, blood, MELD score, caregiver awareness of their job. The recipient is not judged on the reason they need the organ, how much money they have, race – just the team looking at each case. One patient may be the sickest and neediest, but if that liver is not deemed healthy and matching that patient, the next patient, the one that matches will get it. I was listed only 14 days. I have known other patients, listed at my facility, who waited over a year. She was young and had had liver cancer – never a drop of alcohol. Look to yourself, Derek. Enjoy the story for the altruistic individuals willing to vacate their seats!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *