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Father-son duo reunite with doctor that saved their lives

Father and his two sons who suffer from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
Posted at 2:52 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 18:01:41-04

MILWAUKEE — In honor of Donate Life Month, a father-son duo reunited with Dr. Ajay Sahajpal who saved both of their lives by performing liver transplants.

John Meilahn and his son Greg from West Bend each suffer from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a rare genetic disorder that leads to liver failure.

A liver transplant is often the only option available to save and extend a patient's life with this disorder.

"I was waiting at home. I had lost 40 pounds. I thought I was not going to make it," said John.

John had a successful liver transplant in 2017, which was performed by Dr. Sahajpal, a transplant medical director at Aurora St. Lukes’s Medical Center in Milwaukee.

Greg’s liver began to fail four years later.

"I was bracing myself for this could very well be the end of my life," said Greg. "I was just getting weaker and weaker and my skin was yellowing, and my eyes were yellowing."

Dr. Sahajpal helped once again on News Year's Eve when a donor match was found for Greg.

"I connected the dots with the last name and I said to our post coordinator I know this name," said Dr. Sahajpal. "They both presented differently, but they presented the same need for a liver transplant."

Greg at Aurora St. Lukes hospital

Greg and his father are thankful to the donors and their families for giving them the gift of life.

According to a statement from Aurora Health, there are currently more than 1,600 people on the organ transplant waiting list in Wisconsin.

"There are always the more people that need transplants than there are available organs," said Greg.

"I don't think people realize what being on the donor list can mean for another family," said John.

While COVID-19 forced some transplant centers to reduce or cancel transplants, Aurora St. Luke’s continued and has performed 230 organ transplants since 2020.

Signing up for the organ donation registry can help save the lives of those in our community.

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