Madison man celebrates milestone in second chance at life

This month marks 20 years since a Madison man got an organ transplant at a time when he needed it the most.
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:10 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:28 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - This month marks 20 years since a Madison man got an organ transplant when he needed it the most.

In 2002, doctors told Kevin Corcoran he only had about 24 hours to live if he did not get a new liver.

Kevin Corcoran shows pictures of a car crash in 1979 that left him severely hurt and in need of...
Kevin Corcoran shows pictures of a car crash in 1979 that left him severely hurt and in need of blood transfusions.(WMTV/Michelle Baik)

Corcoran said, at the time, he was at the top of a transplant list related to his chronic hepatitis. He said a car crash in 1979 left him severely hurt, and after blood transfusions, he was diagnosed with the liver disease in 2001.

In September 2002, conditions worsened, and Corcoran was hospitalized with pneumonia.

“After I was sent home on 9/11 of ‘02, I didn’t want to go to bed,” he said. “I was so scared because if I go to bed, I’ll never wake up.”

“So I’m sitting up, and all of a sudden the telephone rang,” he continued. UW Health officials called to say, “’Mr. Corcoran, we have a donor organ available. We’re going to need you to be in the hospital within 2 hours, can you make it?’”

He said his donor was a 16 year old who died in a car crash.

At 72, Corcoran looks ahead to the next two decades.

“Just get up every day and do the best I can,” he said. “Nobody knows how long we have to live.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, the 20-year survival rate is about 53 percent for patients getting liver transplants from deceased donors.

UW Health’s University Hospital, where Corcoran got surgery, opened a new transplant clinic Tuesday. The Pleasant T. Rowland Transplant Clinic brings a range of transplant services together to one location. The 10,000-square-foot location will care for those who are being evaluated for a transplant, have received one and those who are giving an organ donation.

CEO of UW Health Dr. Alan Kaplan celebrated the announcement of the new clinic.

“In that spirit we promise to build upon this latest milestone in our Center’s long history by continuing to dream big and harness the innovation required to make it happen,” Dr. Kaplan said. “Our goal has never been to simply meet the future of organ transplantation head on but to be among the leaders who help define it.”

The clinic is named after Madison-area philanthropist Pleasant Rowland, who was the founder of what is now known as American Girl.