Stories Of Hope: Hollis Hughes

“It’s hard to find opportunities to express appreciation to the donor families. As an organ recipient, I’m extremely grateful and keenly aware of the magnitude of their loved ones’ generosity. I want to let them know their loved ones live on.”

- Hollis Hughes

As a long-time executive and active community leader, Hollis Hughes had mastered the art of juggling a busy schedule and multiple responsibilities. That changed rather suddenly eight years ago. After developing a mild case of shingles, Hollis, who was then serving as president of United Way of St. Joseph County, became so fatigued he was unable to sit through meetings. At first, his doctor thought it was just a case of the flu, but tests soon revealed that Hollis suffered from autoimmune hepatitis. His autoimmune system was attacking his liver, and the shingles had likely triggered it.

“The first attack destroyed about 40 percent of my liver; the second took another 20 percent,” explains Hollis, who resigned from United Way when his condition worsened. “The doctors said I could live with as little as 20 percent, but at that point I had become so weak, I didn’t really call it living.”

The possibility of a liver transplant was discussed soon after his diagnosis, but Hollis and his wife were reluctant to seriously consider it at the time. When it became clear, however, that he could no longer actively participate in his daily life, Hollis reconsidered.

“I just had a feeling if the transplant were done, I would feel better,” he says.

He was right. After recovering from the transplant surgery, Hollis, following his doctor’s advice, made a commitment to improve his physical condition. He hired a personal trainer and now works out five days a week at the gym. Today, he continues to serve on the board of trustees of Ball State University and has returned to many of the community activities he enjoyed. He’s an advisor to five foundations through a local bank, and when he’s not busy supporting various charitable organizations, he plays golf, which he admits is still a work in progress.

“In talking to other recipients, I’ve observed they do more than just continue on with their lives; they try and give back by getting involved and making a difference in their community,” says Hollis, an Indiana Donor Network advocate. “That was such a big part of my life before my transplant, and I hope I’ll be able to continue giving back.”


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