Julie and Jack’s Story
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your prayers, most importantly, and also your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

This first story is written by a friend, but most of the journaling will come directly from Jack or Julie or one of the McGraths. Thank you for caring. 

The McGraths are a sweet family In Hickory - six kids ranging from 6th grade through adulthood.  Several years ago, as a teenager, Jack became very sick and was ultimately diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis which is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease.  Eventually Jack's liver began to fail, and he was then diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), which is a condition that can come along with UC.  This is ultimately a fatal diagnosis unless he receives a liver transplant.  After looking at the options, the strongly recommended course was a living donor.  A living donor involves  identifying someone who meets a long list of criteria and is willing to go into surgery and donate 60+ percent of their own liver.  This a a long and tough workup and recovery for the donor, and it will also be a long and tough recovery for Jack.  When he receives this new liver he will have a greater than 80% chance of no recurrence.  

  After nearly a year of prayer and searching, Jack's mother, Julie, has been identified as the best donor for Jack.  Originally she was turned away by University of Pennsylvania, but they looked again at her many months later and made the decision to accept her as the donor! The surgery is planned for August 21st . Currently Jack is struggling with infection and progressive liver disease and will be in the hospital at UPenn until surgery.  Please pray for readiness on all fronts for this surgery. 

Please pray for the McGrath family - 
1) for a succesful transplant - no rejection
2) no recurrence
3) speedy and smooth recovery for Jack and Julie
4) peace for the girls who will be at home in Hickory
5) no episodes of Ulcerative colitis or infection 
6) the Peace that passes understanding - from the Lord - during this time
7) finances to cover this ordeal  -   https://www.gofundme.com/help-fund-jack039s-new-liver

Newest Update

Journal entry by John McGrath

Epilogue - "a section at the end of a book or play that serves as a conclusion to what has happened."

For some time, we have wanted to write a recap of all that has transpired since August, but it is definitely difficult to put into words. Much of the past several months seems both vivid and surreal. 

This week marks the twentieth week since the surgery, and both Jack and Julie are doing remarkable! Neither one experienced a single complication (like bile leaks, infections, hernias, etc) which is truly extraordinary. Both had their three month checkups in November, and MRIs revealed everything was in great shape and that both livers had nearly already regenerated to full size. We are deeply grateful to God for their healthy recoveries.

So where are we now? As I pondered recently what I would write in this final "epilogue", I confess that in my mind I was incorrectly using the word "prologue" instead. I knew something wasn't quite right, but the correct word did not come to my mind until this week. But, the realization occurred in the context of thinking about Jack's perspective - for him, this "conclusion" is more like a "prologue" that marks the beginning of his new lease on life. A few weeks ago, he called Julie early one morning and said, "Mom, I just got back from an eight mile bike ride! I never thought I could feel this good!"  A few days later, he went on a 20 mile bike ride. Jack is doing well!

He returned to UNC Chapel Hill this week to finish up his Computer Science degree, and is eager to finish school (target Dec '19) and get on with his new life. The night before he left for school, he put the Calvin and Hobbes comic shown above on Julie's bed (he knows how to get his momma to cry):

Calvin: Wow, it really snowed last night! Isn't it wonderful?
Hobbes: Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand new!
Calvin: A new year... a fresh, clean start!
Hobbes: It's like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on!
Calvin: A day full of possibilities! It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy...let's go exploring!

Jack's fresh, clean start has begun. Julie and Jack are both healthy. We are all profoundly grateful to God and the hundreds who have reached out to us, gave to us, cooked for us and PRAYED for us during this season - THANK YOU!

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