My husband, Chad, was a super healthy person who suddenly became super sick. Although we had known for a decade that Chad’s liver was deteriorating for mysterious reasons, he still felt well enough to bike to work every day and travel the world with me and our children, and we were optimistic about the possibility of a future liver transplant. Not until Chad was diagnosed with bone marrow failure, on top of his liver cirrhosis, did we learn about short telomeres as the probable cause of both major health issues.

Chad and I scrambled into overdrive trying to find a way to get him a new liver so he could get a new bone marrow so he could continue to enjoy life and contribute to the world. We ended up at a top hospital in Seoul, South Korea, where I successfully donated the right lobe of my liver to him, and then returned to the US for a bone marrow transplant. Chad’s bone marrow transplant ultimately failed to engraft, and he passed away in 2019. The ordeal of chemo, major surgery, and the unsuccessful transplant proved to be too much for an otherwise healthy 47-year-old who wanted nothing more than to live.

At Chad’s Celebration of Life, the recurring themes I heard of family love, kindness, sensitivity toward others, and intelligence all reminded me that Chad was never anything but his authentic self to everyone he met. Chad wished to be remembered as “smart and nice,” and his family and friends continue to honor him by striving to be that way ourselves.