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Gathering lets transplant recipients find support –

By Lizzie Johnson / World-Herald staff writer

July 13, 2013

“Snoyl ecyrb” means scar tissue.

You won’t find the words in the dictionary. But for Bryce Lyons, a 21-year-old small bowel transplant recipient from Omaha, the translation is spot-on.

The phrase was coined Saturday during an ice breaker game at the Nebraska Medical Center’s annual transplant reunion. More than 1,000 transplant recipients from across the United States flocked to the Ramada Plaza Hotel for the event.

The introductory game consisted of spelling one’s first and last names backward, then defining the new word.

Kathryn Slattery, a 19-year-old from Lincoln, received a combined heart and liver transplant when she was 17. On a sheet of white paper, she scribbled, “ ’Nyrhtak yrettals’: Fighter.”

One young girl wrote, “Sparkle Queen.” Another boy, “New Ruler of France.”

Both Lyons and Slattery, seated together at a white table, laughed at that one.

Lyons stuck with what he knew: scars.

“The scars are always gonna be there,” Lyons said. “Whenever I would go to the pool as a kid, people would stare. I like to mess with kids and say I got them from a fight with a shark.”

Back in 1993, at age 1, Lyons was the first patient at the Nebraska Medical Center to receive the tricky — and often unsuccessful — small bowel transplant.

Dr. Alan Langnas, chief of transplants, said he remembers the anxiety surrounding the operation.

“At the time, only a few of those kinds of operations had been done in the world,” he said. “It was a tense time.”

After spending more than 10 years in and out of the hospital, Lyons is healthy and thriving.

He hasn’t been rushed to the hospital in more than four years. He’s working at Subway and thinks he’ll be promoted to manager soon. His transplant has influenced his career goal: become a surgical technician.

Lyons said he has felt isolated before but that the reunions help.

“I am not the only one with a scar,” he said. “I have come every year and can relate to everyone’s stories. We have all had lots of surgeries. I got lucky.”

Langnas said the reunion offers transplant recipients networking opportunities.

“When people have unusual circumstances, they think they’re the only person in the world,” he said.

“This provides emotional support and helps them realize they aren’t so unique, and they aren’t the only person in the world.”

via Gathering lets transplant recipients find support –

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