“As Long As We Have Air In Our Lungs, There’s Hope.” Mom Reunites With Family Months After Rare Transplant. “It Gave Me The Chance To Dream.”

Sarah Granados and family

It’s never easy to spend time away from your loved ones.

Sarah Granados knows a thing or two about being separated from her family. The mom-of-3 from Gastonia, North Carolina has been coping with serious health problems for over a decade. Her troubles started back in 2012 when she went in for surgery to remove her gallbladder.

The surgery was supposed to be routine, but it left Sarah unable to eat solid foods due to a previously-unknown inherited connective tissue disorder called Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. She was given a feeding tube and diagnosed with severe gastroparesis, a condition that affects the passage of food from your stomach to your small intestine. Six years later, Sarah had her entire stomach and part of her small intestines removed.

“I ran into complications almost immediately,” Sarah recalled. “It was at that time that (doctors) said, ‘You’re either going to need a transplant or your life expectancy is probably only a few years.”

After this surgery, Sarah suffered intestinal failure. She was diagnosed with a rare condition that blocks the intestines, so she was placed on parenteral nutrition, or an intravenous feeding tube. She spent the next 444 days waiting for the perfect organ donor match for a complete gastrointestinal system transplant.

Sarah spent most of 2020 and 2021 in the hospital awaiting transplant, and she admits that she considered ending her battle during those long days alone.

“At that point I was having conversations with my family about having my lines actually removed and going into hospice because I was ready to be done,” Sarah said. “And not because I don’t love my life, and not because I wouldn’t give anything and everything, but because my body was really, really tired and couldn’t stand the thought of living in a hospital anymore.”

Finally, she got the call that everyone on the transplant list hopes for. A donor was located, and they had a stomach, pancreas, and small and large intestines that were a “perfect match.” She was immediately flown 200 miles away to Indiana Health University Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. On November 14, 2021, Sarah received a new intestinal system via a 10-hour transplant operation.

She spent the next few months recovering in the hospital, but in February, she was granted a week’s reprieve. She decided not to tell her family so that she could surprise them by showing up unannounced. Her mother picked her up at the airport and brought her to a local park, where she tearfully met up with her loved ones at long last.

“Getting to surprise them and the look on their faces when they realized it was me might be the best moment of my life,” she said.

Sarah is now back in the hospital to make sure her body doesn’t reject her new organs. For the first time in years, she is able to envision a future with her in it, and she couldn’t be more grateful to her “angel donor.”

“There’s not an hour that goes by that I’m not very keenly aware that I’m now carrying somebody else,” she said. “It’s a privilege but it’s also something I take very, very seriously. It gave my kids their mom back. It gave my husband back his wife. It gave me the chance to dream about things I haven’t dreamt about in years because I was too scared to.”

Sarah hopes that sharing her story will encourage people to become organ donors themselves. She also wants to impart a sense of hope for all: “Like I tell my kids, ‘As long as we have air in our lungs, there’s hope.'”

Please share Sarah’s message about organ donation and hope.

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