Verlon Robinson is desperate to save the life of his beloved wife, Marie, who is dying from progressive liver damage —and he is willing to offer anything to get help.
Robinson’s wife, Marie, was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver three years ago, and has since waited to receive a liver transplant to extend her life. Though she is on the transplant list, she hasn’t been placed high enough to receive one yet.
“I see my wife just getting sicker and sicker, and I hear stories of people who wait too long, and they die, they just can’t recover,” Robinson, 55, tells PEOPLE. “I don’t want it to go that far, and it shouldn’t go that far.”
With Robinson feeling time running out, he took to Facebook on May 3 to make a public plea for volunteers to visit UCSF Medical Center to see if they would be a viable candidate to donate part of their liver.
“We have been married for 25 years and it breaks my heart when I think about losing her,” Robinson, of Sanger, California, wrote in his post. “I would do anything to trade places with her but as you know that’s impossible. So please if you are O positive or negative blood type and would consider giving her some of your liver we have insurance that would cover all surgeries.”
In an effort to make people consider donating, Robinson wrote that he was willing to give the donor his 2004 Dodge pickup truck and a tent trailer. On top of that, Robinson said he would donate his kidney, as well.
“I sat down and asked God to put what he wanted me to write in my head,” Robinson remembers. “I sat there and poured my heart out.”
All of those things were expendable to Robinson, he says, if it meant he could somehow save his wife, who has always tried to remain positive despite her illness.
“She always has a smile on her face, and very few times I have seen her down — I know she gets down, but she keeps it to herself,” he explains. “We’ve honestly never fought in this whole time that she’s been sick.”
Yet, shortly after posting his message, UCSF contacted Robinson to let him know he wasn’t allowed to offer material things for a donation. But Robinson’s post had already reached hundreds of people over social media, who contacted him about how they could help. It was the first glimpse of hope that the couple have had in a long time.
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Cirrhosis of the liver occurs when healthy tissue is replaced with non-living scar tissue, according to the Liver Foundation. A variety of things can contribute to cirrhosis, such as genetic diseases, drinking too much alcohol, or chronic hepatitis C. In later stages of the disease, patients can develop jaundice, gastrointestinal bleeding and bouts of confusion, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Robinson says Marie experiences a lot of pain in her legs, especially at night, and he often wakes up to comfort her.
“I get up and rub them and get her to feel better,” he says. “In the morning, she is really tired. She likes gardening but after two hours, she is so tired that I’ll almost have to carry her back to bed. But she does try.”
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As of now, the couple is still waiting for a donor, but with so many people reaching out, they feel confident that a liver is on the horizon. Until then, saving Marie is Robinson’s constant focus.
“She opened my eyes to a world I have never seen before, and for that, I’m so grateful,” he says. “My wife is my life, and if something happens to her, I’m going to be lost. I don’t know what I would do without her.”