Love and Sacrifice
Posted: May 1, 2021
Margaret Stegall stared at a Facebook post. She had never seen the person in the photo before. She read: “Janet . . . is in desperate need of a liver transplant . . .”
The post told the story of Janet Pierce Thorin: Doctors diagnosed Mrs. Thorin with an autoimmune disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) when she was a teenager. PSC hurts the liver. The damage prevents fats and other nutrients from traveling to the body’s organs. PSC turned Mrs. Thorin’s skin yellow. It made her itch horribly. She was tired nearly all the time and lost a dangerous amount of weight.
Ms. Stegall kept reading. The post ended with a request: “A qualified liver donor with blood type O positive or negative would only need to donate a small portion of his/her liver. Would you prayerfully consider donating?”
Mrs. Thorin and Ms. Stegall didn’t know each other. But they were connected. They were both part of the family of God.
“I couldn’t just hit ‘like’ and go on about my day,” says 25-year-old Ms. Stegall. “I couldn’t get away from the feeling I was supposed to help.”
Ms. Stegall knew her blood type was type O+. She knew that type Os can give blood to the other types—but can accept blood only from other Os. That makes getting O organs extra difficult.
As far back as 2004, Mrs. Thorin knew she would eventually need a transplant. But who would she get it from? Her family had checked with relatives. No one had a matching liver. The Thorins didn’t know how to ask for that kind of help. That’s when Mrs. Thorin’s pastor’s wife made the Facebook post.
Ms. Stegall was tested to see if she was a match. People kept asking her: Why volunteer for such a surgery—for a stranger? She struggles to put the reason into words. “My pastor had been preaching about listening for God’s voice,” she says. “I knew God was telling me to ‘love my neighbor as myself’ in this way.”
It turned out that God made Ms. Stegall just right for this opportunity. The test came back: She was a match!