In 1985, Roxie Dilts found out she needed a new liver; however, doctors were able to treat her problems until 2009. She said that's when it became impossible to stay well.
"That's when they told me if I found my own donor, that they could do the liver transplant as soon as I found a compatible donor, which I did," she explained.
She had the first transplant but it was followed by Roxie waited three months for a second, new liver.
"I can mostly just remember how tired and sick I always felt beforehand. I was hospitalized all the time because my blood work was out of whack and everything was just, you know, break down," she recalled.
The second surgery worked but she was still having some problems.
"Three different times that had told me to invite family members in because they didn't think she would make it. I said, 'You don't know my wife. We've been together for 42 years. She is not going to leave me now,'" said Roxie's husband and caretaker, Bill.
She made it. She did have a third surgery to fix some complications. Her husband stayed with her almost every night in Pittsburgh for seven months.
"You need the support. You need to have a loving and a supportive person," said Roxie.
He wasn't just supportive. He was also studious. Bill spent a lot of time researching everything from medications to procedures.
"I was told that through my asking so many questions and getting so involved, that I was very instrumental in saving her life," he said.
To this day, Bill still checks all of Roxie's blood work and talks to her doctors when things don't look right.
When Bill retires, the couple plans to do a cross country trip along Route 50.
In the meantime, the pair has advice for others facing transplant surgery.
Roxie said patients should always listen to their doctors, watch what you eat, try not to stress and take your medicine as you're supposed to.
Bill said caretakers should check their insurance and prescription plans before the surgery, research all upcoming procedures and ask plenty of questions along the way.