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Former UK employee thriving after receiving new liver from donor

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Sep 06, 2023

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Ricky Sellers drove himself to the Kentucky Organ Transplant Clinic on Tuesday. That’s a pretty big step for a man who just four months ago thought his last time in a car would be at the head of his funeral procession.

Mr. Sellers waited for months for a liver donor. His was failing and riddled with cancerous tumors. Had he not received the call when he did (April 27), he might not be with us anymore.

“I was getting a lot worse during that time, and I had to leave work because I was getting so bad,” he explained.

Sellers worked for many years as a security guard at UK. LEX 18 spoke with him in January, hoping to bring awareness to a state-wide organ donor shortage.

He got several “false alarm” calls about a new liver, but the clock started working against him. When another cancerous legion was detected, transplant coordinators could shoot Sellers to the top of the recipient list.

“All of a sudden, the phone rings. I was asleep, and they said they have a liver for me and to get to the hospital,” Sellers recalled.

He got that call not a minute too soon.

“Some people get to a breaking point where they can’t handle it and can’t hold on long enough to get that transplant,” said Nicole Hattle, who works as a Liver Transplant Coordinator at UK. “I was really worried that Ricky wasn’t going to make it,” she continued.

Surgery was scheduled for the very next day. Four months later, he’s driving to his appointments. He says he’d like to resume working around the house and traveling, but for now, he knows the physical limitations given his situation. Sellers is 66 years old and recently got engaged to the woman he’s had a crush on for over 50 years. (When they were kids, he didn’t quite dare to tell her!) Vicki was a big part of getting him to that operating table and helping with his recovery.

“I want to get married, I want us to travel, but at the same time enjoy life at home. Just try to enjoy life and see my grandkids,” he said of his plans in the short and long-term future.

Sellers lost his son to COVID-19 a few years ago, so he’s been very active in helping with the two children who were left behind. He has another son who was also there for him during this long, often painful ordeal.

“I just wanted to be around for a while and contribute to society,” he said.

Sellers also said he'd like to thank the family members of his donor at some point once he learns of that person’s name. He says he’s thankful to everyone at Chandler Hospital, the Kentucky Clinic, his family, and more.

“I just thank God for giving me this liver,” he said.