A New Liver—and Mindset—Bring About Healing

A series of pictures of Chad Methum of New Hope, MN, taken in the year following Chad’s liver transplant in 2015, creates a record of what healing looks like—on the outside.

In every photo taken by his longtime girlfriend, and primary caregiver, Trista, Chad stands in his kitchen, striking the same pose.

At the time of transplant, he had 185 pounds on his 5-foot-8-frame. Post-op, and struggling with infection, he dipped to 119 pounds. The progression shows a man becoming whole again, albeit with a 12-inch scar across his abdomen.

“I have a new liver,” Chad said. “That is what ultimately healed me.”

But lying in a hospital room for weeks upon weeks, edging toward 39 on the scale of 40 for end-stage liver disease, Chad was still able to focus the little energy he had left on picturing what healing might look like—on the inside.

Month-by-month photos show Chad’s transformation after a liver transplant.

He wanted to experience life again. To walk his dogs again, swing a golf club and get back to work as a chef. As would anyone, Chad wished for health and healing.

There was a real possibility, though, that his health would not be restored. Adopted from South Korea, and with little personal or family medical history, it was unclear what role genetics played in the failure of his liver. Plus, Chad’s cumulative food and drink choices had not been flawless.

And obviously, he had no control over whether a donor liver would become available in time to save his life. So Chad made a choice to focus on one of the few things that was within his control. He made a decision to heal.

“Healing starts from within yourself,” he said. “The process is aided by the surroundings and people you choose. You want to make choices that are healthy, mentally and physically, for your mind and body.”

In July 2015, Chad’s name was placed on a transplant waiting list, and on Sept. 10, 2015, a donor liver became available.

Today, Chad is back to walking his dogs, Bella and Bailey, playing 18 holes of golf, and has returned to work as a chef. He eats well—to the point of creating a low-sodium cookbook—doesn’t drink alcohol, and nothing gets in the way of his exercise routine.

And as a liver-transplant veteran, he remains active in a support group for transplant at the University of Minnesota Health.

Not to diminish his “exterior healing,” for which he remains grateful to his team of doctors, nurses, surgeons and therapists, Chad feels that his “interior healing” is also complete.

If only there could be a series of photos to stand as record for this part of healing, too.

Chad Methum was treated by hepatologists with University of Minnesota Health. He received a liver transplant in 2015 by University of Minnesota Health transplant surgeons.

Watch Chad Methum’s Video

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Rebecca Westphal May 07, 2019 8:12pm
Chad, my name is Rebecca Westphal and I am a liver transplant survivor too. I was so sick and they didn't know if I would make it. That was last August. I came home two days before Christmas. know this first year is crucial. Three weeks ago I had severe abdominal pain and underwent emergency surgery to remove scar tissue and adhesions from my bowel. I am home now. I feel so week and food doesn't taste that good. You encourage me that things can get better. I don't know of any support groups in the Green Bay, Wis. area. What kind of diet are you eating? How long did it take before you had strength back? I am 70 and it's been hard, but I want to get better and have a normal life and the things I like to do. I would appreciate any encouragement you have to offer. Thanks and God bless.