Paul Saucedo


Valerie Cooney Paul Saucedo

A life-giving measure awaits those who offer
By Robb Hicken, Reprinted with permission from the Nevada Appeal

Monday, April 19, 1999 8:55 AM

Discovery of a liver problem brings a lot of disbelief, tears, questions and fear.

When Carson City attorney Valerie Cooney said when she was diagnosed with liver problems, the doctor told her if she could last 10 years, that would be wonderful.

“He basically said in 10 years they’ll be growing livers in a Petri dish,” she said. “And now, that seems like it’s happening.”

Cooney, who is an attorney in Carson City, said she hasn’t had much time to think about the situation. She has known about her liver ailments for five years, but expects it’ll be another five years before she is ill enough to make it onto a transplant list.

But that doesn’t mean she’s given up. She’s very outspoken when it comes to
supporting others who have had or are expecting transplants. She also has an affinity to the current law change being sought in Nevada’s Legislature – directed donation.

“For those of us in Northern Nevada, it gives us a little control over our destiny,
since we have so little control otherwise,” Cooney said.

Paul Saucedo, who heads up the Sierra Nevada Liver Support Group, said that it’s important for people to know they still have some control over their lives.

Saucedo received a transplant nearly five years ago. He’s been on anti-rejection
medication, but has been somewhat of the poster child for liver transplants.

“It takes over your entire life,” he said. “My dear wife went through hell to keep me alive.”

The 57-year-old Carson City resident said that there is no way to hold it all together with out the help of others. Saucedo credits a large amount of his wanting to survive to his son.

“Hope,” he said, “is what most people are looking for when they call me. They want someone to tell them that there is a hope for a future.”

The idea of organs grown outside the human body, using the body’s own tissues, also provides that hope.

“It’s a hope for people like myself,” he said.

There are about 35 people in the Carson City and Reno groups who are awaiting transplants. Others are being diagnosed with liver problems even now, he said.

The need for organ donation is as great or greater. The technology to save lives is there.

“I think the thing that I could say to anybody and everybody about transplants is, ‘Heaven doesn’t need your organs, we need your organs,'” Saucedo said.

He said that’s where the hope for those who are waiting comes in as well. There’s is nothing that bolster’s the group than to hear that one of the individuals in the group received a new liver, he said.

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