Howie’s House Sweethearts: Denise and Ken

It was twice that Denise received the call of a possible liver, and both times just as she was about to leave her local hospital for the day. The second call came on New Year’s Eve.

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“The Howie’s House provides a service that no one else can. It isn’t just a place to stay. It’s a family.” –Denise, liver transplant recipient and current Howie’s House guest.

Denise Fegley, with her husband and caregiver Ken at her side, has spent more of the past year in the hospital rather than out. But when Denise got too sick for her local doctor’s care and was referred to a hospital in Philadelphia, the couple of 31 years thought they had hit a wall. Their new team of doctors was over two and a half hours away from home and they did not know anyone in Philadelphia. Then they heard about Gift of Life Howie’s House.

“It’s weird how things fell into place” Denise recalls. It was twice that Denise received the call of a possible liver, and both times just as she was about to leave her local hospital for the day. The second call came on New Year’s Eve. Ken had been playing a show with his band Double Talk when his daughter burst in mid-set with the announcement. Ken sat his guitar down and left with a standing ovation to make his way to Philadelphia. It was not only a new year, but a new chance at life.

For Ken, the Howie’s House shows just how large the transplant community is, and how difficult the transplant journey can be. ‘”The average person does not understand just how deep the transplant journey is.” He continues, “They should come and listen to the stories here.”  And Denise and Ken say they are happy that they found a place where they could go where everyone just gets it. “We’ve seen the good and the bad. Sat and chatted with people. Cried with people. Prayed with people.”

Denise and Ken feel that the Howie’s House provides a service that no one else can—for the patient, the caregiver, and the whole family. The Howie’s House gives them an opportunity to meet people in similar situations who understand them and what they were going through. The Caregiver Lifeline Program has been especially helpful for Ken, where he gets to participate in support groups led by Gift of Life Howie’s House’s licensed social worker. Ken finds these groups very comforting during the stressful transplant journey. Denise says she feels comfortable here too, “There’s always someone here, I never feel alone”. And when their son Ken Jr. came to visit over Thanksgiving break, Denise said it changed him forever. She said he was so impressed by the warmth and blown away by the support that he will never be able to forget his experience here.

The Fegleys have bright plans for their future together. They are looking forward to finally getting the opportunity to travel. The couple had originally planned to see the world after they both retired but when Denise got sick, they thought it would never be possible. But now, after receiving the gift of life, the two plan to travel and enjoy some stress-free time together. Their dream trip would be to go to the South Pacific! Denise and Ken also look forward to becoming grandparents. They want to give back to the Howie’s House in whatever way they can, but especially through the Home Cook Heroes program. “The one thing we can do is cook.”

 

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