Man battling liver failure has transplant match - his wife

 Life has dramatically changed for  57-year-old Joe Griffith.

The husband, father, shipyard worker and active outdoorsman now can barely speak, think or get around on his own.

"It destroyed me," Joe said.

Last year he learned his liver was failing fast. His wife Cindy who has become his caretaker, says his battle with hepatitis C and alcohol had finally taken it's toll.

"He was bleeding in his esophagus which they said is a side effect to liver disease they said you need a liver," Cindy said.

FOX 2: "As his wife what went through your head and heart at the time?"

"This is a fight we are going to do," she said.

Joe needed a liver, but doctors told them he had a better chance of success with a live donor.

"You wouldn't believe how many people - once we got on the transplant list - who came forward to try and get tested," Cindy said.

It is quite an involved process. Testing ranges from basic health questions and blood work, to scans and an actual liver biopsy.

One by one, hopeful donors learned they didn't qualify. The medications were piling up and Joe's health continued to decline. He was running out of time.

And then finally, a match. Taking everyone by surprise - it was his wife.

"I was so emotional," Cindy said. "I was so happy for him, so happy he was going to get a chance. That it was that close."

And rare for a woman to donate a piece of her liver to a man, while Cindy missed the age cut-off by just one year.

"She's been there for me," Joe said.

"We are so ready. Every time I'm down at the hospital and I see all the doctors and coordinators, I'm like 'Team Griffith,'" Cindy said. "They all know me and they've been in there enough times with him and myself that they're all cheering for us."

The Griffiths are staying positive, but Joe's liver failure has also taken a financial toll.

He had to quit his job and Cindy, who works at Meijer, will have to take time off to recover from this procedure.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help them make this transition.

The surgery has a more than 90 percent success rate. And if all goes well, Joe will become himself again and be back to work in no time.

"He's going to wake up out of a dream," Cindy said. "He'll be in pain but back to himself."

It is a moment that couldn't come soon enough for this couple bonded by love, and soon, a liver.

"We've always been in love," Joe said. 

"I would rather be homeless with Joe rather than anyone else, we have to do this," Cindy said. "We'll get on our feet we'll get through this."

The surgery is set for April 13 at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital. The couple is saying that 13 will become their lucky number.

The family has a GoFundMe page set up to help them with their bills. To donate, CLICK HERE.

In just a few weeks, doctors expect their livers to become full size once again. The success rate is 70 percent.
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