Meaghan Goodnough is a young woman whose life is sure to be one of inspiration and contribution.
She comes from a family that has hosted an annual blood drive for 14 years in memory of her grandfather who passed away after a battle of cancer. She herself has been donating blood to help others since she was 17. She now works with volunteers at a local shelter for domestic violence survivors. And in 2006, she selflessly gave a precious gift of life to her ailing mother.
Kathy Goodnough was a nurse in the 1980s when she contracted Hepatitis C from a needlestick. Although she lived 20 years with few symptoms, Meaghan recalls how tired and lethargic her mother had been. Then in 2003, the disease progressed and by 2005 she was in liver failure. Meaghan learned she was a match for her mom, and in March 2006, they traveled to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY where Meaghan donated 70% of her liver to transplant into Kathy.
During and after the transplant procedure, Kathy required several blood transfusions over many days. “It was amazing. In the morning my mom would wake up and be really weak – she had no energy at all. Then she would receive the transfusion and before the bag was even empty she immediately had color and energy. It was like magic,” remembers Meaghan.
Meaghan did not require any transfusions after the surgery, but had a difficult road to recovery. Fortunately, within six months both she and her mother had full-size, functioning livers. They are now happily enjoying good health. “Mom is full of life and energy. We do things I couldn’t even have imagined doing with her when I was in high school. She was so tired then.” Since the transplant, the family has taken a Caribbean cruise, and Meaghan and Kathy have been to Atlantic City twice.
But Meaghan also appreciates the ordinary days too, saying, “The little things in life – birthdays, holidays – these are huge.” Just enjoying each one of her college days was a gift. After graduating from LeMoyne College in 2009, she went to work at Vera House assisting with volunteers. “It feels perfect for me. I love the volunteers.” Her commitment to community doesn’t end with her job.
Meaghan’s family remains committed to the blood drive they began hosting in 1995 to honor Kathy’s father, James Kearney. While battling cancer, James needed several transfusions during his treatment and the blood drive was a way to honor his memory and ensure other patients in need would have the blood products they required. Always enthusiastic, Meaghan relishes the role of recruiting blood donors. “When someone needs a little encouragement to donate blood, I tell them, ‘It’s not a big process, it doesn’t really hurt. Everybody knows somebody who’s been sick. Maybe they didn’t need blood. But without blood donors, my mom wouldn’t be here.’”
“I can’t imagine life without my mom,” Meaghan says when thinking of all they’ve been through. And, there are many people who can’t imagine life without the passion Meaghan shows to helping others.