Liver Transplant Recipient Pays His “Miracle” Forward

Dudley Farquhar considers September 20, 2012 his second birthday, or as he puts it, “The day my clock of life started ticking again.” That’s the day he received a liver transplant at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. To show his gratitude, Farquhar is including a planned gift to Lahey in his will. But his story is far from over. And it’s a remarkable one.

Born in Newburyport, Farquhar grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s with more than his fair share of hard knocks. He lived with 15 different foster families before finally finding a loving home with the Clark family in Merrimac. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany when, as a staff sergeant, he volunteered to serve in Vietnam in 1970. “Handwritten on our helmets was: ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil… I will overcome evil!'” Farquhar recalled.

He survived the ravages of war, including open wounds and a deadly bout with malaria that spiked his fever to 106 degrees. When he returned home, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, he found that doing charitable work lifted him out of depression and he devoted his life to helping others, donating his free time to POW/MIA and veterans’ organizations, as well as youth support groups.

But decades after the war ended, Farquhar learned his personal fight wasn’t over yet.

He started feeling very ill and was unable to perform his job at Lucent Technologies in North Andover, where he had worked for 34 years. When other doctors were unable to determine what was wrong, Dudley came to the Lahey Hospital & Medical Center for help. In March 2011, he was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease — a result of battlefield exposure to the toxic defoliant known as Agent Orange. He would need a new liver to survive.

A second chance at life 

Farquhar  became a patient in the Department of Transplantation, led by surgeon Mohamed Akoad, MD. He spent almost 14 months on a waiting list before a donor liver became available and Dr. Akoad performed Farquhar’s life-giving transplantation surgery. Afterwards, a team of dedicated nurses educated and encouraged him through the challenges of recovery.

With a new liver and a renewed lease on life, Farquhar was able to get back to doing the things that made him happy. He wrote a letter of thanks to the organ donor’s family, telling them, “Your loved one gave me the gift of prolonged life.” With his new liver, he is no longer an invalid. He’s able to be a husband, a brother and an uncle again, to enjoy even the mundane things that make up our everyday lives, and to look to the future with optimism. “I was able to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary with the love of my life, and we took a ‘bucket list’ trip to Bar Harbor, Maine,” Farquhar said.

A legacy of giving

Farquhar was so grateful for the care he received that he decided to honor Dr. Akoad by including a planned gift to Lahey in his will. “It was a no-brainer,” he explained. “They saved my life.” By making a planned gift, Farquhar’s assets remain in his control during his lifetime, and he may modify his gift if his circumstances change.

“I wouldn’t be alive today without Lahey,” Dudley said. “I went through hell trying to find out what was wrong with me. But the minute I walked through the front door of Lahey, they made me feel that I wasn’t a number, and they would get me whatever help I needed — which turned out to be a transplant.”

Now Dudley has resumed his mission to advocate for the needy, including veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as children in shelters. “A year after my transplant, Dr. Akoad told me [that before the operation] I had only about two weeks to live. I’m very fortunate that a donor came through from New York. I call this my New York miracle.”

By making a planned gift to Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in his will, Dudley knows that his legacy of charitable giving will live on — and miracles will happen for others in the future.