Julie and Jack | CaringBridge

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

We are thrilled that both Jack and Julie are both a few days out of the hospital, and we are deeply grateful to God for the success of the surgery. We are grateful to countless friends, family and even strangers for the generous outpouring of prayers, gifts, texts, emails and so much more. Gracie recently played volleyball against Hickory High and said that numerous girls she doesn't even know came up to ask how her brother and mom were doing. If I step off the treadmill of life for even a moment to pause and consider what has transpired over these past few weeks, tears of gratitude come to my eyes.


So, what is next?


We are living in a very nice Transplant House for a while. Julie and her sister Kim are in a beautifully adorned room that oozes warmth and cozy and love. And, Jack and I are in another room, which looks like a room that two guys without any sense of order would enjoy. The House has 30 rooms, a huge kitchen and dining room and lots of nice common areas. We are so grateful to be staying here.


Julie described herself as about "80%" today. I am smiling as I type, because yesterday she self-assessed at 60%. The smile is not about the improvement, which does make me happy. The self-assessment is likely inflated a bit due to the joy of having her parents and our girls arrive here in Philadelphia this morning. But, the smile is one of those funny-not-funny realizations that she could really hurt herself if she thinks she is at 80% just nine days after a major surgery!  She gave away 62% of her liver a week ago, she has a 12"-14" scar on her stomach as evidence, and doctors' orders not to drive or lift more than a milk gallon for six weeks. They warned her that hernia recovery would be worse than the liver recovery. Yet, she even asked me this morning when she could go running with me again!  I love my sweet wife, but probably need to encourage more down time!  Amazingly, her liver is busy regenerating itself, and should be around 90% of original size within 3 months. This regeneration process does consume her energy quite a bit. Her major risks in the coming weeks is a hernia in the wound area. Julie has three follow up appointments over the next 4 weeks to ensure her liver is functioning well.


Jack, on the other hand, self-assessed around 30% yesterday, and slightly better today. His recovery carries more risk, as more change happened to his body - he has a new liver at which his immune system is shouting, "hey, you don't belong here!" He is yet to be comfortable for more than a short while, but this is due to pain rather than any complications. He is required to take many pills, every day, for the rest of his life. Some will be phased out over the next few months, but they are currently anti-everything (anti-rejection, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, etc). He needs to avoid germ-filled crowded areas in the near future (or longer). When Jack does feel comfortable, his smile and wit and mind are on full display. Most importantly, the inner functioning of Jack's new liver is progressing very well, and we are so grateful to not have to worry about the liver complications that have afflicted Jack any more.


So, Jack will definitely remain in Philadelphia for at least another month. Julie will be here, too, though I might pursue getting her home for a quick visit in mid-to-late September. Your continued prayers for a smooth recovery for both are appreciated!
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Thoughts & Well Wishes

Beth Reilly | Sep 4, 2018
Hi Guys,
Scott and I are so thrilled at the success of the surgery. We pray for continued healing and blessings on your beautiful family. We hope Jack and Julie will both be 100% soon. 
We could not be happier for you all. 
Very Sincerely,
Beth and Scott Reilly
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paula wittenberg | Sep 1, 2018
Julie & Jack,
I texted you all before you left Hickory to share how personal your fight is to me since I have been down this liver road too. God is faithful to place people in our path that can be strength and light through pray in our time of need. Know that Danny and I are with you through this time. If you need us call 828-381-0868. 
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Crystal Pardon | Aug 21, 2018
Lifting your family up this day....We are praying for the healing virtue power to flow through Jack's body and make him whole again.  Praying also for Julie that the Lord would touch your body in a mighty way as well with total healing and wholeness.  God bless Jack and Julie and the McGrath family.  Love, The Pardons
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Martha Mullins | Aug 18, 2018
I just found out that you are on Caring Bridge, and am so pleased that I can keep up to date. I have been praying for Jack for a long time (when I first met Julie a few years ago) and am praying fervently now. May the tender loving-kindness of the Lord carry you and overwhelm you both with peace. We're all with you, longing for a successful surgery and rapid healing and restoration for both of you. Much love
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Beth Ballhaussen | Aug 16, 2018
Praying for a deeper walk and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ who has all things in the palm of his hand in the midst of all your circumstances. Peter and I are also praying for peace for your family, wisdom and discernment for the medical personnel and full recovery for you both, Jack and Julie. 
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