KANSAS CITY - Bryan Weaver and his family celebrated their Christmas Eve at the nurse's station on the sixth floor of Kansas University Hospital.
Full of energy and more importantly full of life, Weaver laughed and joked with nurses, doctors and patients over a buffet-size holiday feast.
"It's just my way of saying 'thanks,'" Weaver said. 'They have helped me out tremendously."
Since childhood, Weaver struggled with an auto-immune disease, and by the age of 30, he needed a liver transplant.
He remembers waiting for that phone call from the hospital.
"Is this going to be the time? Is this going to be when I go in? Is this when I start my life again?" he'd ask himself every time he saw the hospital on the caller I.D.
After 60 days of waiting, Weaver got the call and got a liver.
Doctors say a liver transplant patient typically is released five days after surgery, but it wasn't so easy for Weaver. His body rejected the liver, and again he was put on the donor list.
"That was the biggest punch in the gut ever," Weaver said.
The sixth floor became a second home. In room 6421 he was prepped for his first surgery. Down the hall in 6425, he had to relearn how to walk.
A hundred days after being put back on the donor list, Weaver was in 6415 getting prepped for his second transplant surgery, but 6404 is by far his favorite room. It's where he was finally discharged three and half years ago.
Every Christmas Eve since, the Weavers have returned to the nurse's station to give a little back. At first, they only fed the staff, but now the family will take food to the various waiting rooms throughout the hospital.
Weaver's father Jerry says the hospital staff played crucial role in his son's recovery, but he gives a lot of credit to the families of the liver donors.
"The ability to give life when you pass away is phenomenal," Jerry said. "It really is the true meaning of Christmas. I just can't say enough to the two families that made the decisions, so our son can live."
The Weavers say they get a lot of support from the organization Gift of Life, which provides awareness and coaching to patients and donors. For more information visitwww.giftdonor.org.
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