BRADFORD COUNTY, Fla. -- Her story captivated the hearts of people around the country. First, when she gave birth to five healthy quintuplets and again this year.
Stacy Dyal, who had to spend weeks away from her five children, is celebrating their 5th birthday this week. She was hospitalized earlier this year as she underwent her second and then third liver transplant.
Now back at home, Stacy is opening up about her remarkable journey, and says she is grateful for the prayers she has received and for the donors who gave her the gift of life.
Stacy's children light up when she picks them up from preschool. Being able to hug their mother is something that once seemed very far away.
"So when they said when is mommy coming home my answer was always as soon as she can, and we left it open," said Margaret Dyal, the quintuplets' grandmother.
Stacy was just 25-years-old when she was diagnosed with chronic liver failure.
"It was pretty critical at that time so they weren't able to give me the best liver that they could give me because I kind of like only had maybe an hour left," Stacy said. "It was that severe. It was quick."
Almost five years after that transplant, at the age of 30, Stacy gave birth to quintuplets.
The stress of carrying five babies proved too much for her donor liver, and doctors told her the only option was another liver transplant.
"They said there is nothing to fix it," said Stacy's husband, Kelley Dyal. "We will just have to wait. That's the hard part. It's a waiting game. You know your wife is going to get sick and her health is going to decline, and it did."
With Stacy hospitalized basically from March until July of 2017, her mother-in-law helped care for the quintuplets.
As Stacy got sicker, she moved toward the top of the transplant waiting list. She became so swollen her children at first didn't recognize her when they visited her at the hospital.
Then an answer to prayer. A match was found. She had her second liver transplant.
"I'll never forget the look on the doctor's face when they walked in the room. and she and surgeon looked at me and said I don't understand it... I don't know why, but it's blocked," her husband said.
He soon learned his wife would need a third transplant.
"We knew round three," he said. "There's no other option. The question then is how long? And no answers. That's the thing that drives you the craziest, no answers. You just have to accept the fact you are not in control. God is in control. He didn't bring us this far to drop us like an egg."
While they waited for another donor to be found, Stacy finally got to come home and be with her children, but only for a few days.
"My phone rings, and they say we have you a liver. Can you be here in thirty minutes?" recalled Stacy. "The kids just lost it. We were walking out the door. They are screaming and banging on the window when we backed out of the driveway. The lights hit the window. It was horrible."
"I was crying when mommy left," said Kameron Dyal, one of her daughters. "That's all I did."
Kelley remembers the doctor walking in after the third transplant and explaining how Stacy's body tried to shutdown her new liver.
"I asked him what that meant, and he looked me dead in the eye and said I don't know because surgically he has done all he can. He said I don't know how many opportunities we'll get, and that hit home," Kelley said.
Now five months after her third liver transplant, Stacy is doing remarkably well. She often thinks about the donors who lost their life, and in turn gave her life.
"That's the hard part when you think of it like that, and you have to because someone has to give in order for me to receive," Stacy said.
The Dyals don't know whose liver gave Stacy the gift of life, only that it was a young female in her 20s.
"Without it she wouldn't be here," Kelley said. "It's that simple. The family, the people who made that sacrifice give people like Stacy or anyone, and don't ever say it can't happen it to you, life. It can happen in the blink of an eye. God doesn't promise tomorrow. He's promises the future, but not tomorrow."
It's a journey that has changed Stacy and taught her how precious life truly is.
"It makes you open your eyes and realize okay you got a certain amount of time in this world so you know enjoy and do what you love, and you know, that's my kids," Stacy said. "If this situation helps someone decide that they want to be an organ donor I would do it again because I mean that is a big deal. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for organ donors."
So how rare is it to get multiple liver transplants? According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, since the 1980s only about 1,000 people have had three liver transplants. About 100 have had four transplants and only 13 have had five liver transplants.
If you want to give the gift of life and sign up to be an organ donor, please click here.
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