Manoa woman gets second chance at life

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sarah Brostek says she wasn't planning on dying, but she wasn't planning on living either. In the past year, she went from happy bride-to-be to a patient at death's door. All because her liver was failing.

Today, the Manoa resident looks like the picture of health, but back in February, her doctor broke some shocking news to her family. Sarah remembers her doctor saying, "She's going to die. She has two weeks to live."

Years of drinking took its toll on her liver. Then, the antibotics she was taking for a lung infection had adverse effects on the organ. As she deteriorated, she confided in her fiance, Marc Chee.

"Even when I was going for my treatment, I remember just laying on the floor up there and saying, "I'm not going back". I just couldn't take it anymore. I told him, "I'd rather just die already"."

Chee wouldn't have any of it. He supported her in every way – from feeding and bathing her, to carrying her up the stairs when she was too weak, to taking her to her appointments.

"It'll probably the hardest thing we'll ever do," Chee says. "From her being generally healthy to almost dead."

Doctor Linda Wong is the Director of the Liver Program at Hawaii Medical Center. She quickly put the 37-year-old single mother on the transplant list.

Wong describes Sarah's condition. "It's amongst the worst livers we'd seen … it was failing very badly. She had a lot of scar tissue, and by the time we got to transplant, she probably had a week to live."

HMC performs a dozen or so liver transplants a year, and about 30 people are on the waiting list. Sarah's condition got so bad, she shot to the top of that list.

At one of her lowest points, during yet another trip to the hospital, her doctor walked into her room and said, "Sarah, would you like a liver today?"

By the end of that day in early May, Sarah got her second chance at life. And the 'fiance' who her stuck by her? Last month, he became her husband.

"He kept our wedding date. I couldn't believe it, " Sarah recalls. "I was telling him, 'You know, just cancel everything. It's not going to happen.' And he said, 'Nope. You're going to do your treatment and you're going to get your liver, and we're going to get married'."

On her wedding day on August 8th, all of Sarah's doctors were in attendance. She turned to Doctor Wong and hugged her. The doctor says, "She told me that I married her, too because I'm going to be there in sickness and in health".

But this story has one more twist to it. Hawaii News Now has learned Sarah's organ donor is Ty Tang. He's the taxi driver who was killed in a brutal beating last May in Waipahu. Now his family can rest assured that his death was not in vain.

For more information on organ donation in Hawaii, you can log onto

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.