MARRIOTT-SLATERVILLE - For the past five years, Cody and Amy Anderson have endured a grueling "prep school," leading up to what will be his greatest test -- a liver transplant.
Anderson, 31, has primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease that causes swelling, scarring and destruction of the bile ducts both inside and outside of the liver. In January, doctors told him he needed a liver transplant.
"After a few days of the news, we came to realize that this is what all our health struggles have prepared us for," Amy said. "We know that we are given this to help others and teach them some of his lessons learned. This is his second chance at life."
Anderson's health struggles began in 2006, shortly after the birth of his son. After several months, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease affecting the large intestine and rectum. Diet and medication didn't help and Anderson ended up having surgery a little over two years later. Then
he began bleeding internally, requiring emergency surgery on Easter morning of 2008.
"From there Cody was finally on the mend," Amy said. "He started feeling better than he had in three years. We were finally on our way to being a normal family. During this time we were able to build a new home, have one more little boy and start building a normal life for our family."
That normalcy wouldn't last long, however. Last April, Anderson started showing signs of jaundice, a yellowish pigmentation of the skin. A liver biopsy confirmed PSC. In February he was officially placed on the transplant list.
Amy said the family is lucky to have health insurance through her employer, but medical bills are piling up and insurance won't cover a transplant.
"It's funny how an organ transplant is considered an elective surgery," she said.
To help with the costs, a fundraiser will be held Saturday in Taylor. Amy said not only will the money help her husband, it will help others as well.
"The amount we want to raise, to be honest, is more than what the transplant will cost," she said. "There are many out there who are in need of help too. We are so excited to help pay it forward."
The family has joined forces with the non-profit organization, Anything for a Friend. According to its website, the organization's goal is to show the healing power that occurs when countless people step forward and band together through acts of kindness towards a common goal of love and support.
For now, Anderson is taking several medications each day and is feeling pretty good. They said they hope through their experience, they can bring about awareness the importance of organ donation and friendship.
"Organ donation is giving the gift of life to someone who needs it most," Amy said. "I know it's a hard decision for a family to have to choose after they lost someone but I feel if it were me I would want to know that something good came out of a dark situation for many people."
According to yesutah.org, over 16,000 people are waiting for a life-saving liver transplant.
To read more about the Anderson's journey, visit their blog at http://change4cody.com or www.anythingforafriend.com/help-your-friend/cody-anderson/.
- DATE: June 4
- TIME: 4:30 to 8 p.m.
- PLACE: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Taylor church house, 2200 S. 4300 West, Taylor.
- ACTIVITIES: 5K at 4:30 p.m., dinner at 5 p.m., silent and live auctions, kid's corner, entertainment, balloon launch.