Liver Transplant + Bariatric Surgery = the New Marshall

Marshall Curtis was diagnosed in 2009 with end stage liver failure and cirrhosis secondary to Alpha1 Antitrypsin deficiency. Obesity and encephalopathy were additional challenges confronting the Mayo team. He was recommended for a new study program combining a transplant and bariatric surgery to improve his chances for a transplant and long term survival. Listen to Marshall and his wife, Julie, tell how close he got to death and how this experience has changed their lives. This is an absolutely remarkable story!


Wife of Liver Transplant and Bariatric Surgery Patient

Julie shares her perspective on Marshall’s wait and journey for a liver transplant.

“… it been an incredible journey these last two years since Marshall was diagnosed.  It was very difficult knowing that he would need a liver transplant and being on the waiting list … knowing that many people die each day waiting”



In Common Hours

if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
Henry David Thoreau


Henry David Thoreau - 1861Published in 1854, Henry David Thoreau’s essay Walden details his experiment in independence and self-reliance.  In the conclusion of his essay he shares what he “learned by this experiment.”

Thoreau continues:

He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

In the past two years has I have traveled the road to receive a liver transplant I have learned the same thing.  Today my universe, like Thoreau’s “appear[s] less complex.”  I now move forward with a new life, building foundations under the castles I have built in the air.


One Man’s Story Trailer

A one minute highlight of the final weeks of Marshall’s transplant journey.

Julie, Marshall’s wife, commented “the hardest thing about a transplant is the waiting and the unknown.  You have to watch someone you love slowly die while you hope that the transplant will come in time.”

Marshall commented, “Julie had to literally watch me die.  The day before the transplant the wide consensus was that I wouldn’t survive and even if an organ became available I may not survive the surgery.  Julie watched me nearly die and then comeback from the dead.  She endured two years filled with tremendous highs and lows.  She celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary in the hospital with a sick husband and as her 26th wedding anniversary approached she didn’t know if she would have a husband.  I am grateful for her strength and undying faith to stand by me through this traumatic journey.  Without her love, faith and support I probably wound not have survived.”


Diamond Reef Buoyancy

Tonight we spent 3 hours practicing our scuba buoyancy at ScubaCenter in Egan  by navigating a series of underwater diamonds about 1.3 meters square.  The diamonds were positioned at different depths and were numbered so that there was a specific sequence you needed to navigate.

The objective was to navigate the entire course in full scuba gear without making any contact with the diamonds.  To active this objective you need to first determine the amount of “ballast” weight you need to carry to have near neutral buoyancy.  Second, you need to beware of the effect of your breathing on your buoyancy, you become more buoyant as you inhale air from your scuba tank and less buoyant as you exhale.  Breathing is one of the keys to fine tuning so that you are neutrally buoyant at the right depth as you pass through each diamond.

Finally as you use the air in your tank this increases you buoyancy as well.  A full tank has about 2 lbs of negative buoyancy but a used tank will add about 2 lbs positive buoyancy.  As time passed and air was consumed this shift of potentially 4 lbs in buoyancy became very noticeable and the course became more difficult and required more concentration.

It was an excellent learning experience and one that I have never mastered previously, I am not sure I have even mastered it now but I do have much more of a feeling of how to control my buoyancy and how to determine the correct amount of ballast weight.  This will be very helpful as we move forward and everyone is now much more comfortable and confident with doing a cenotes dive.