Atlanta, Ga. (July 3, 2013) – Gary Grantham, 56, has always been a runner but this year's Peachtree Road Race will be a special milestone marking just how far he has come since he received a liver transplant in 2009.
“It took me 15 months after my transplant to build up my strength in order to work out again,” said Grantham, who was so sick when he came to Piedmont Atlanta Hospital that doctors couldn’t even biopsy his liver for fear he would bleed out. “I’ve trained hard this past year. I know I probably won’t place but my goal is to finish.”
When Grantham came to Piedmont with jaundice and low energy, he was not surprised to learn that his liver was failing. He had a family history of liver problems - his grandmother passed away at age 60 from liver disease.
During his two month stay at Piedmont Atlanta, Grantham received 350 blood units from the American Red Cross in order to stay alive. At first, he was on kidney dialysis for 24 hours a day and eventually was able to get dialysis four hours at a time.
“Mr. Grantham was very sick when he came to us,” said Mark Johnson, M.D., who performed Grantham’s liver transplant. “It is amazing to see just how far Mr. Grantham has come since he was here four years ago and I look forward to seeing him finish the race. It never gets old seeing how the miracle of transplantation transforms a life.”
On top of his health issues, Grantham’s mother and sister were battling with cancer while he was in the hospital. Both eventually lost their battles with cancer. Grantham, however, made it through. Shortly before he left Piedmont Atlanta, his clinical team took Grantham and a few others outside to watch the Peachtree Road Race.
"Most people probably thought I wouldn't live,” said Grantham. “But they just didn't know how many people were praying for me.”
Grantham's recovery took patience. He returned to work earlier than doctors would have liked at just six weeks but he wasn’t able to return to the gym to work out until 15 months later. Grantham credits his recovery to his support network – namely family and his local church, Shirley Hills Baptist Church of Warner Robins.
"Every night someone was ringing the bell with supper or something else I needed,” said Grantham. “Without them, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am today.”