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Triumph Over Adversity: A Patient’s Journey from Near Death to New Beginnings

June 14, 2024

In November 2021, a family visit in Kansas City marked the beginning of a life-changing journey for Jarrid Matthews. Initially struck by a persistent head cold, a routine visit to the doctor quickly escalated into a series of events that would test his courage and endurance. Jarrid recalls, “On January 16th, I went to the doctor to get some antibiotics, but they wanted to do some blood work because I didn’t look well. They immediately came back and said my liver enzymes were not good and that they wanted to do further testing. Little did I know, that was the beginning of the end of life as I knew it, and everything was about to change.” 

After several days, the doctors informed Jarrid that he was in end-stage liver failure due to an autoimmune disease and that he would need a liver transplant immediately. After months of being in and out of the hospital, insurance was approved on Halloween night. Jarrid explains, “I was placed on the transplant list. Two days later, I received a new liver. It was one of the most emotional days of my life as I got a second chance at life.” 

The transplant was a success but, unfortunately, did not mark the end of Jarrid’s medical challenges. After a few weeks of therapy, they sent him home to continue home therapy and learn how to manage diabetes, as the anti-rejection medication caused severe hypoglycemia. By the beginning of December, Jarrid was starting to feel like himself again. However, soon after, he developed an unbearable headache that sent him back to the hospital: “I had contracted a severe case of fungal spinal meningitis, which led to severe fluid buildup in my abdomen and lower extremities and ultimately causes Afib and heart failure in mid-January,” says Jarrid. 

One February morning, Jarrid found himself struggling to get out of bed due to severe atrophy. He took one step, completely lost his balance, and smashed onto the floor, breaking his tailbone and hitting my head. He was having a stroke affecting his left side. 

After working hard in inpatient therapy just to use his left hand again, he was discharged on March 19 in a wheelchair and began six weeks of home therapy.  

He progressed into being able to move around with a walker, and he graduated into 12 weeks of cardio rehab to ensure his heart was okay. But his ultimate goal was to walk again. He explains, “By late June, the PT clinic I was referred to told me they couldn’t get me into physical therapy until mid-September, and only for one day a week. I found that unacceptable, so I set out to find a physical therapy location that would accept me sooner. I found PT Solutions of Shawnee Mission, and since July 7, 2023, I have gone three days a week without missing a session.” 

On March 23, 2024, Jarrid completed a 5K in 47:06, a monumental achievement that stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all of us. He expresses, “I’m living proof that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve anything.”  

Jarrid’s remarkable journey from near death to new beginnings highlights the power of resilience and the importance of seeking the right support. If you or someone you know is facing similar challenges, don’t wait. Find a clinic near you and discover how we can help you achieve your goals, no matter how daunting they may seem. Let Jarrid’s journey inspire you to take the first step toward your own triumph.

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