Among the many customer photos hanging on the wall in Todd Farrell’s auto repair shop office in Hudson, NY, the young man pictured in a black frame just over the owner’s shoulder holds profound significance. Not far removed from his high school years, he stands at attention with both hands grasped behind his back. He wears a black baseball cap and black hoodie with short sleeves. Sporting a scruffy chin, he stares solemnly back into the lens.
“Who’s the kid?” customers not familiar with Todd’s story will often ask, pointing to the photo.
“That’s my hero,” Todd responds. Pointing to his torso, he clarifies his statement. “His liver is in me.”
Todd battled his demons since a time when he wasn’t much older than Christopher, the young man pictured. It took an angel to give him a second chance at life and redirect him back on the right path.
Todd is unapologetically frank about his life. He is a recovering alcoholic. His problem drinking started in his mid-20s and progressively worsened throughout adulthood. Multiple medical specialists warned him that he needed to quit or face dying of liver cirrhosis. His drinking would stop briefly but then resume again. His drinking nearly cost him his life.
In January 2022, he finally agreed to seek treatment at a rehab facility in eastern Pennsylvania. But while his health should have steadily improved, his weekly blood tests revealed his liver function was declining. When his wife, Amy, came to pick him and she laid eyes on Todd for the first time in nearly a month, he instantly suspected that something was seriously wrong. “She didn’t say it, but I could see. I looked horrible,” he recalled. “I looked worse than when I left.”
After running additional bloodwork, he was instructed to head to the nearest emergency room. There, doctors confirmed Todd was experiencing liver failure and would need to be rushed to Westchester Medical Center for consideration for a transplant.
In March 2022, Todd underwent a comprehensive battery of medical and psychologically tests before deemed eligible. Within less than a week, he received the miraculous news that a match had been found. He later learned his donor, Christopher, lost control of his vehicle while driving with his pregnant wife on a back road in rural Virginia. She and their unborn child survived the crash but Christopher suffered irreparable brain injuries. Passing away tragically at 20, Christopher was to become Todd’s liver donor.
On March 20, 2022, thanks to Christopher’s generous decision to be an organ donor, he received his liver transplant.
Todd has been sober for more than a year and nine months, nor does he have any urge to drink. However, his incredible story of overcoming adversity is still being written. He’s suffered a series of frustrating medical setbacks, including a stroke and subsequent seizures.
But he appreciates the second chance he’s been given, savors the little things in life like hearing birds chirp on a cool summer morning, and remains optimistic about the future.
I wake up every morning and thank God that I’m alive.