Mother of 3, wife of deployed soldier: dual transplant

Posted at 10:48 AM, Jan 20, 2017
and last updated 2018-11-03 15:19:45-04

2016 was a record year for Scott & White Medical Center as they performed 96 total transplants.

The transplants included kidneys, pancreas and hearts. 

Talitha Juristo was one patient who received two transplants -- a kidney and pancreas. 

"I looked at my oldest who's 13, and I said 'Ty, I just got the best birthday present ever,' and he's like 'You got it?' And so he literally jumped up out of the bed and ran out the door and told my mom before I could because I was still sitting on the bedroom floor just in shock," Juristo said. 

After two months of dialysis, Juristo found out she would be receiving a new kidney and pancreas in the final hours of her 36th birthday. 

A mother of three, her youngest autistic, and wife to a deployed soldier, she had been in kidney failure for the past three years.

"All the time it was hard for her, she just took it all in stride. And I have to say I was very humbled by her ability to do that because I wish I could be as strong as she," said Jacqueline Lappin, the surgeon who performed Juristo's transplants.    

Juristo's organ donor was a 24-year-old incarcerated man who had passed away. 

"And knowing that this young man who might not have made the best decisions in life, the last thing he ever did saved someone else's life," Juristo said.  "And I took great comfort in knowing that while I mourned for his family for their loss, that they could take comfort in knowing he still did something really great."

Juristo said she lives her life differently now, and the little things don't bother her anymore. 

"It wasn't just a kidney and a pancreas. It was a long healthy life with my husband and my kids. It was the ability to be an Autism advocate. It was the ability to share this story to give other people in the same situation I was in hope," Juristo added. 

Juristo's husband was serving in South Korea while she had her transplants, but she said her surgeon called him personally to keep him updated. 
While being interviewed for this story, Juristo received a phone call from her husband saying he had just landed in Killeen and was home two weeks early. 

Juristo and Lappin wish to stress the importance of becoming a donor... living or deceased. They said checking the box on your driver's license is an easy way to save someone's life and give them a second chance. 

Copyright 2016 KXXV. All rights reserved.