Growing New Livers in a Lab #livertransplant

Assembly and Function of a Bioengineered Human Liver for Transplantation Generated Solely from
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

That’s the fancy title of a new report by Kazuki Takeishi and other scientists who have successfully created miniature human livers from stem cells and put them into mice. I won’t get into the details, mostly because I don’t understand them, but here’s a picture:

A picture is worth a 1000 liver transplants.

You can read the very technical research paper here on Growing Mini Livers

About 17,000 people are currently waiting for a liver transplant in the United States. This number greatly exceeds the amount of available, donated by deceased donors. Meanwhile, organ transplants can be prohibitively expensive. In 2017, patients receiving a liver transplant were billed an estimated $812,500. That includes pre and post-op care as well as immunosuppressant drugs to keep people’s bodies from rejecting the transplanted organ.

I am one of those liver transplant recipients. My donor passed away on May 12th 2020, and in the early hours of May 13th, my dying liver was removed and replaced with the donor’s healthy liver in an operation that lasted about 4 hours. That was exactly three weeks ago, but I could have been much more unlucky. Each year an estimated 2000 people die while on the national transplant list…there are just not enough donated livers to keep up with demand. And you can’t live without a functioning liver…it is one of the most important organs and supports over 500 key body functions.

While the science isn’t quite ready for prime-time, scientists expect that within 10 years, liver donations will be a thing of the past.

You can read a much less science-y version of the story here: Lab Grown Human Mini Livers

The Zen of Alan Watts

I love listening to (and reading) Alan Watts. His unique perspective on the Universe and humanity’s role as part of this thing we call “life” has altered my views on several subjects…from the meta to the mundane. Here is a recent recording of one of his lectures…I hope you’re ready 🙂

You can learn more about Alan Watts at the Alan Watts Organization and Alan Watts on Wikipedia.

Liver Update: Hemoglobin

So, my battle with my liver has landed me in the hospital once again. I went yesterday to get some routine blood tests and they came back with a dangerously low Hemoglobin Count of 6.3. The normal range for males is 13.5 – 17.5. Because the liver carries out over 500 functions in the body, when it’s not working as designed, it can lead to many other illnesses. One common symptom is anemia, which I have, which basically translates to less oxygen in my blood.

How do they fix it? Blood transfusion. Since this rollercoaster ride began back in September of 2019, I’ve probably been given 15 or more pints of hemoglobin-rich blood to immediately give my system a boost.

So I’m back again…still determined to beat this thing, and hoping that healthy donor liver becomes available sooner rather than later. I was told l would likely wait 1-4 months before the right organ becomes available and we’re just passing into month 3 since I was officially put on the national donor list. Unfortunately a partial transplant from a living donor is not an option in my case, but thank you to the several family and friends that have offered…that’s truly amazing.

Advent Hospital in Orlando is one of the top liver transplant hospitals in the world, and I am lucky to live only a few miles away. My team of doctors, nurses and techs are caring, knowledgable and treat me like a member of their family, so I try my best to keep them entertained (my current leading complaint I tell them that I specifically requested an oceanside view) 🙂

The hospital itself is relatively empty, no visitors due to Covid-19 and they have all of the Covid patients quarantined in a different building. I never ever thought I’d be dealing with liver disease, compounded by a worldwide pandemic. The Universe keeps throwing curveballs at me.
But when life throws you curveballs, you gotta make some curveball-ade!
– Diggz

P.S. Thank you all for your continued support of kind words and gifts of home-cooked meals and my special team of family and friends who check in on me multiple times a day. I feel truly blessed knowing so many people care, which is one reason I try to post updates like this one. You can also help by making a tax-deductible donation at

Sometimes Behaves So Strangely

One of the first Radiolab episodes I ever listened to from 2007 features Diana Deutsch, a professor specializing in the Psychology of Music, who could extract song out even the most monotonous of drones. (Think Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller. Bueller.)

I remembered this when I was tasked to create a unique ringtone for Tropo’s Phono WebRTC client. Few actually know that I borrowed the ringtone for Phono directly from this Radiolab episode.

Have an Ordained Minister Marry you via Video

Hello! I am currently hosting online services to perform your Wedding. My ordination from Universal Life Ministries is recognized worldwide now and at reduced rates. Video services include FaceTime, Facebook Live, Zoom and more. I will sign and date your Marriage Certificate. Please email us to schedule and get a free quote.

The downside of saying “Get Well Soon”

I never really gave it much thought until facing my own terminal illness. The phrase “Get Well Soon”…it’s everywhere, embedded in the cultural consciousness through greeting cards, balloons and cakes. Sounds great, right?

Here’s why it falls:

As someone with a terminal disease, the phrase can feel flat and almost robotic. I know anytime someone posts that phrase on my page, I would hope they would take the time to say something a little more and think about an alternative phrase. Some suggestions:

  • Sending you healing vibes
  • You are in our thoughts
  • praying for you
  • let me know if there is anything I can do, please let me know
  • I made a donation on your behalf
  • (hopefully you get some of your own ideas out of these suggestions)

This is not to say the intent is missing as anyone who has dealt with a life-threatening illness.

For more ways to donate to liver transplant patients, tax-free click here