Mustafa Sharafi is celebrating a major birthday milestone this year.
What makes his 30th birthday extraordinary is the fact that not many people thought he would live to see it.
“This birthday signifies how long I’ve come, how far I’ve come,” Sharafi said.
He was born with a rare liver disorder, which affects only one out of every 1 million people. His liver was unable to break down certain proteins, essentially poisoning his body.
In September 1985, when Sharafi was only a few months old, he was airlifted from the University of Michigan Hospital to a St. Louis hospital, where he became the youngest liver transplant recipient at the time.
Doctors told his family that they would be lucky if Sharafi lived to see his 16th birthday. His family knew what they were facing, because they had already lost a daughter to the same disease.
“Every day, I wake up and I’m blessed to be alive. I’m sure everybody else is, but I’m special on a different level because I know that my life could have been taken 30 years ago, and yet, here I am,” Sharafi said.
He’s undergone only that single transplant, and is living a healthy life. He’s getting ready to marry his sweetheart in a few weeks.
“I want others to know that just because you have a transplant doesn’t mean life stops. Life goes on, and you make the best of it,” Sharafi said.
He’s also about to make history for a second time by becoming the longest-living person to receive a liver transplant. He can’t help but think about his donor’s family.
“They gave up a special gift to let somebody else live,” Sharafi said. “I owe them the world. I owe them the whole world and I want people to know that. Being an organ donor and an organ recipient — it’s not hard, but at the same time, when the family donated the organ, I’m sure it wasn’t very easy on them because their child was obviously a baby.”
To find out more about organ donation in Michigan, visit GiftOfLifeMichigan.org.