Beautiful story, from The New Richmond News in Wisconsin:
In the Gospel of John 15:13, Jesus instructs, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
Recently assigned to his home parish of Immaculate Conception, New Richmond, as well as to St. Patrick, Erin Prairie, Fr. Anderson had been pastor of the Tomahawk parish for 10 years. “Father inherited me,” joked Deacon Dave Bablick, who has served St. Mary for 17 years. The story begins six years ago, when Ginny was diagnosed with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a hereditary liver disease. Weakness, jaundice, fatigue, tremors, memory loss and fluid retention are symptoms of the condition, which ultimately leads to cirrhosis of the liver and death. A liver transplant was Ginny’s only hope. The waiting list for cadaver livers numbered in the thousands, so, four years ago, the Bablicks began searching for a living organ donor. At times, it was a heartbreaking process. Their two daughters were tested to determine whether they could be donors; one daughter’s liver was too small, and a biopsy showed the other daughter already had the disease. Another potential donor got pregnant and had to back out. None of the children in Ginny’s 10-sibling family could help. After hearing of their struggles, Fr. Anderson volunteered to be screened as a possible donor. He underwent physical and psychological examinations and a liver biopsy; he and the deacon discussed his progress without telling Ginny. They feared another disappointment would kill her. The priest passed every test, then took a month to discern whether to undergo what promised to be a painful and invasive procedure. He was also required to consult his employer for permission to miss up to three months of work. According to Fr. Anderson, Bishop Peter F. Christensen, bishop of the diocese at that time, said, essentially, “I wish you wouldn’t, but I understand and give you permission.” Meanwhile, the disease was taking its toll. Six months earlier, the deacon had to help Ginny walk the 30 feet from the couch to the bedroom. Her skin was yellow. She was going downhill fast. After Mass on Nov. 21, 2014, six years to the day a throat rupture led to her diagnosis, Fr. Anderson and Deacon Bablick took Ginny aside and told her the news: Fr. Anderson would be her donor. “She turned to jelly,” her husband said.