First a ‘Miracle’ Liver Transplant, Now a Mission to Save Lives
Nov 29, 2022
Ashley Boarman
Goldie Williams, a bi-racial liver transplant recipient,, stands in front of a Sutter Health banner holding red roses for her Rose Parade send-off event.

Sudden onset liver failure transformed one woman’s life by giving her a new path forward after receiving a life-saving liver transplant. Now, Goldie Williams’ purpose is clear, and it’s beginning with a parade send-off event to raise awareness for organ donation.

“I never really thought about my liver…until it was the only thing I could think about,” Williams said.

Williams, 38, has been a working mom her entire adult life. When she’s not working or taking care of her three kids, the Oakland resident is busy helping to raise money for various social causes, including organizing mutual aid drives in her community.

At the beginning of this year, Williams looked forward to diving into her passion projects. But the universe had other plans. She started feeling off: nauseated, tired, itchy with mysterious bruising on her legs and back. “It wasn’t until I woke up one morning with yellow eyes that I knew something was seriously wrong,” she said.

Goldie Williams, a bi-racial liver transplant recipient, holds roses for her Rose Parade send-off event at Sutter CPMC. Williams is surrounded by her hospital care team, including doctors, nurses and care coordinators, as well as her parents and longtime partner.

Goldie Williams receives roses at a send-off event for the 2023 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Dr. Robert Osorio, chair of Sutter CPMC’s Transplant Program, said during his remarks that transplant care “takes a village” of clinicians and coordinators. The recipient’s family, friends and community are also a needed part of the journey to help make the transplant a success.

On May 31, Williams went to the ER at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. After extensive testing, specialists at Alta Bates Summit diagnosed her with autoimmune hepatitis. She was transferred to a higher level of care at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Upon arrival at CPMC’s Van Ness campus, Williams was quickly evaluated by the liver transplant team and listed for a liver transplant with a 1A status.

As Williams learned, 1A status is identified as sudden and severe onset liver failure. A person in this state is not likely to survive more than a few days without receiving a transplant. He or she is therefore given the highest medical priority for the allocation of a deceased donor liver. 

Answered Prayer

Williams’ life was saved on June 13 when she received a donor liver transplant at CPMC. The medical center is known for excellent outcomes in heart, kidney, liver and pancreas transplants. The hospital also serves as Sutter’s Northern California hub for advanced organ therapy services.

“Goldie, and patients like her who are in need of complex and highly coordinated care, benefit greatly from Sutter Health’s integrated network,” said Dr. Robert Osorio, a liver transplant surgeon and chair of CPMC’s transplant department. “While receiving her initial examination and diagnosis at Sutter’s Alta Bates, Goldie was seamlessly transferred to CPMC for advanced organ care. We knew she was coming, the precarious condition she’d be in and that we needed to move fast.” Dr. Osorio says it was an “honor” to be Goldie’s transplant surgeon.

Following her transplant operation, Williams was able to return to her family in Oakland a few days later. “Thank you for being my friend through this,” she told CPMC doctors and nurses who kept her alive through her whirlwind two-week hospitalization.

The Barry S. Levin Department of Transplantation at CPMC in San Francisco is nationally ranked as one of the top transplant programs in the country with survival rates among the best in the nation. The team celebrated its ten-thousandth transplant in January 2022. Read Bradley’s story here.

Looking Ahead

Screen grab image of Goldie Williams' Instagram account story that displays a picture of a large pill box with multiple slots filled with colorful pills. Williams' caption on the photo reads: "Are you a Millennial transplant recipient if you haven't taken a pic of the pills you take?"

Goldie updates her Instagram followers about her post-liver transplant journey, including the many medications that help her body accept the new donor liver.

Williams is currently in recovery; a journey in and of itself. She finds comfort in the grounding miracles of science, the knowledge of her liver team, her family and support system – boyfriend Amol, children Lorelai, Rishi and Casper, their goofy dog Jerome, parents Nancy and Roger, siblings Olivia and Jason. In addition to Williams’ community of friends, she has added the team at Donor Network West and Sutter doctors, nurses, specialists, as well as fellow transplant recipients, to her network of support.

In the wake of this life-changing experience, Williams looks forward to bringing organ donation advocacy to the forefront of her work. She’ll get her first opportunity to do just that on Jan. 2, 2023, where she will ride atop the Donate Life Parade float in the nationally televised Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif. This year’s float will honor the millions of people who have been touched by organ, eye and tissue donation, including living donors, donor families, transplant recipients and transplant candidates.

“Every single day I’m thankful for my donor and my donor’s family for this incredible, selfless gift. As tribute to my donor and their family, I spend my days loving life in new ways, and I will do my part to make this world a bit better.”

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