‘My Super Hero’: The gift of life from a living donor

“She needed a liver, and I had a liver to do it,” Cody Corwin said of Bernice Ramsey. “When the bell rings, you answer the door.” Photo retrieved from GoFundMe page.

by Tina Cole-Mullins

Stockbridge graduate Cody Corwin went above and beyond on Feb. 25 when, in a selfless act of generosity, he donated a third of his liver to Bernice Ramsey. 

“She needed a liver, and I had a liver to do it,” Cody Corwin said. “When the bell rings, you answer the door.” 

Ramsey, a role model to Corwin, is the grandmother of his girlfriend, Stockbridge teacher Shelby Platt. “She has a heart of gold,” Corwin said. “She calls me her super hero. Honestly, she’s more of a super hero to me than I am to her.”

Late summer of last year, Ramsey’s liver disease took a drastic turn for the worse. Her Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis is characterized by inflammation and damage of the liver due to a build-up of fat on the liver. Ramsey, well-aware of the dangers of the Steatohepatitis, had already lost a brother and sister to the disease, and her outlook became grim when she fell into a coma. 

As her health declined after years of treatment at the University of Michigan Liver Clinic for her chronic condition, Ramsey was taken off the transplant list. Deathly ill, but not giving up hope, she and her family desperately searched for other options. Their search led them to the Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit academic medical center in Ohio. The liver is the only visceral organ to possess the capacity to regenerate. As little as 25 percent of the original liver mass can regenerate to its full size. However, donors must match, and their hopes were quashed when they learned that no one in the immediate family was a match. 

Shelby Platt, Ramsey’s grand-daughter, and Cody Corwin. Photo retrieved from Facebook posting

Enter Corwin. “From the get-go I told Shelby, ‘Look if no one else can do it, I am always an option.’ She would always say ‘No, no, no, I couldn’t ask you to do that.’” 

Undeterred, Corwin contacted the clinic directly, and he discovered he was a perfect match for Ramsey. Soon, Corwin was traveling with his family and the Ramseys to Cleveland. Late February, Corwin and Ramsey underwent a lengthy liver transplant procedure. 

The surgery proved a success. Corwin’s donated liver became functional in Ramsey. To keep in close contact with the hospital during their respective recuperations, a secondary residence is being set up in Cleveland. Both Corwin and Ramsey will have months of recovery during which Corwin will be unable to work. The grateful Ramsey family cannot hope to repay Corwin’s generous gift of life, but to try to ease his financial worries while he recovers, they have set up a GoFundMe account to help with his expenses. 

Meanwhile, Ramsey and Corwin are cheering each other on as they both work toward total recovery. To learn more about the fundraiser go to: https://www.gofundme.com/eb5mk-organ-transplant.

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