New liver, new life for Jason Musser

Jason Musser (center back) received a liver transplant Aug. 25. His wife Erin (right) is the office manager at Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office and their two boys, Tanner (left) and Orion (center front) are Meeker School District students. The Mussers reside in Maybell.
COURTESY PHOTO

RBC | After living with a debilitating condition for 15 years and being on the liver transplant list for three years, a local father of two has been given a second chance at life. 

Jason Musser, a Meeker High School graduate and resident of Maybell, was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver when he was just 25 years old. Musser would be hospitalized often with episodes of extreme illness and abdominal pain.  It wasn’t until he had a liver biopsy that doctors discovered the cause of his affliction. Without an obvious reason or known cause for his liver disease, the doctors labeled it as cryptogenic cirrhosis. At that time, Musser and Erin, his wife of 15 years were told he would need a liver transplant within 10-15 years. Erin is the office manager at Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office. 

During the last several years Musser would become ill and require hospitalization, most often with a chronic leg infection called cellulitis, due in part to edema caused by his failing liver. The staff at Pioneers Medical Center became very familiar with the Musser family and Jason’s case. 

“They always took great care of him and became wonderful advocates throughout this whole process,” Erin said. During one of these illnesses Musser was flown to the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) in Denver where they became acquainted with the hepatology team that eventually helped Musser get an evaluation for a liver transplant.  A week after the evaluation he received a call that he would be placed on the transplant list. That was three years ago. 

Mussers’ transplant surgery took place on Aug. 25.  Leading up to the transplant, Musser had gone to UCH for some scheduled hospital stays and testing. During the last stay he became very sick and it was apparent that he would not be going home anytime soon. Because of his serious condition, Musser became number one on the transplant list in Colorado and Wyoming. His doctors were confident that he would soon be offered a liver. The call finally came late Saturday night, Aug. 24, that he was getting a new liver.  His medical team began the prep work for surgery at 10 a.m. the next morning.  Musser’s sons Tanner, 14, and Orion, 10, both students in the Meeker School District, along with his parents Kendal and Diane, and wife Erin waited anxiously during the nearly six-hour procedure. Musser’s recovery went well and he didn’t have to be admitted into ICU like many patients after a transplant. 

“He was so strong and positive from that point forward,” Erin said with pride. ‘He was motivated and wanted to make the most of his recovery with walks and sitting up, even though his incision (which looks like a hockey stick) had to hurt incredibly.” 

Musser was released from the hospital a week after surgery, but after two days he was readmitted for mild rejection. The doctors adjusted his anti-rejection medication and placed him on steroids. The new medication seemed to help.  After five days he was released again.

His family was told he had to stay in Denver for twice weekly blood work and follow-up appointments with his medical team. This could last anywhere from two weeks to three months. As of now, the Mussers are driving back and forth to Denver at least twice a week for doctors’ appointments.  As expected after major surgery, he has good and bad days. The first three months are crucial to monitor his new liver and overall health. He will also have numerous restrictions for up to a year while his body heals and adjusts.  Housing, food, and daily cost of living are all out of pocket, along with other medically associated expenses.  If you are able to help the Musser family, an account has been set up at Mountain Valley Bank.  All donations made directly to Mountain Valley Bank will go to the Musser family.  You can stop in or send a check to 400 Main Street, Meeker CO, 81641.  Please make checks payable to: Musser Medical.

By ROXIE FROMANG | Special to the Herald Times

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