Belleville, NJ – Karl Halpin, 61, recently celebrated a remarkable milestone – the 10th anniversary of his life-saving liver transplant. Karl’s journey serves as an inspiring testament to the transformative power of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
“I get moments of clarity where it boggles my mind how the miracle of organ donation and transplantation saved my life, and I am still here,” said Karl. “I love every moment of my life, and I see the beauty in even the most mundane things we do each day.”
In 2013, Karl faced the challenges of hepatitis C and its subsequent complications, including encephalopathy and end-stage liver disease. Despite experiencing short-term brain damage and moments of forgetfulness, Karl's spirit remained unbroken, and his family stood by him throughout his health journey.
“My wife Maggie had to endure and overcome a lot to support me, and I knew it was taking its toll on her and our family,” said Karl. “But Maggie and our kids gave me the strength to keep going.”
For five years, Karl and his family waited for a liver transplant. He received ‘the call’ for transplant on nine occasions, however they were ‘false alarms’ as testing showed each was not an ideal match. Finally, on Karl’s tenth call for transplant, the gift of life arrived. Karl’s successful liver transplant took place at University Hospital in Newark on January 27, 2013, marking the beginning of Karl's remarkable recovery.
Following his transplant, Karl defied all odds, returning to work as a union ironworker and resuming his passion for playing ice hockey. His commitment to health and positive living has been an inspiration to those around him.
“I describe our work as ‘hard and heavy,’ and I am proud to be back,” said Karl. “I am forever thankful to my family, the medical team at University Hospital and, of course, my donor hero who gave me the gift of life.”
Karl's donor hero is an 18-year-old young man who tragically passed away following a car accident. Karl stays in close touch with his donor’s mother, and he honors his donor’s legacy by ‘giving back’ and supporting local organizations like NJ Sharing Network, the non-profit organization responsible for the recovery of donated organs and tissue in the Garden State. By sharing his transplant story, Karl encourages others to register as organ and tissue donors. His story also gives hope and support to those on the transplant waiting list.
“Just one organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 others,” said Karl. “To give someone a second chance at life is the most remarkable gift. Registering as an organ donor is a legacy that continues long after we are gone.”
According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), there are over 100,000 Americans – nearly 4,000 of whom live in New Jersey – waiting for a life-saving transplant. However, the generosity of those in the Garden State is providing hope for the future. In 2022, the number of organ donors and organs transplanted in a single year reached all-time highs. This marked the fourth consecutive year NJ Sharing Network has reported new records in the number of organ donors, underscoring the clear trend of increased support for organ donation. To learn more, get involved, and join the National Donate Life Registry as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
PHOTO CAPTION - Karl Halpin, liver transplant recipient, volunteers his support for NJ Sharing Network along with (left-to-right) his wife Maggie Halpin, and daughters Stella Halpin and Deborah Halpin. (PHOTO CREDIT – Courtesy of NJ Sharing Network)