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Clyde Beard, Liver Transplant Recipient, Gives Thanks

Clyde Beard poses with staff from the Comprehensive Transplant Center hospital unit

How do you thank the people who saved your life? Liver transplant survivor Clyde Beard thanks by giving. A former patient in the Comprehensive Transplant Center, Beard returned to the hospital unit for the fifth year in a row to serve a sumptuous holiday feast to 150 staff, patients and their families.

Long Road to Transplant

Decades, ago, a blood transfusion after a motorcycle accident exposed the young Beard to hepatitis C, but he was unaware of the infection attacking his liver until he attempted to donate blood in 1992. Despite the available treatments at the time, Beard grew increasingly sicker. He finally received a new liver in October 2008 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital after being on the transplant list for 20 months. “I thought I was on death’s door,” he says. “They saved my life.”

Holiday Thanks

Beard spent roughly a month on the Comprehensive Transplant Center hospital unit and was discharged just before the holiday season. Grateful to be alive, he and his wife, Wendy, hatched a plan to thank the doctors and nurses who cared for him — and to cheer the patients and families who were away from home.

Catering a holiday meal for his former hospital unit was the natural choice in a family where cooking is a shared passion. Beard learned to cook authentic Italian cuisine from his grandmother. His mother used those same old-world skills to open an Italian restaurant in Northern Virginia. And Beard has a restaurant-quality kitchen at home, where he and his family have whipped up five straight Thanksgiving feasts for the Comprehensive Transplant Center. This year, he posted a appeal, raising enough money to extend his offering to 50 more recipients.

Clyde Beard and his wife, Wendy, lead the family team of Thanksgiving Feast servers

On Thanksgiving Day, Beard and his extended family arrived at the Sheikh Zayed Tower with 100 pounds of turkey and all the trimmings. “They just kept bringing food out of the Suburban,” says nurse clinician Emily Suplee, who watched the feast unfold. “They were so generous.” After serving dinner, the Beards handed out desserts on the 32-bed unit, spending time with patients recovering from liver, kidney or pancreas transplants who were alone for the day. “Not all the patients have family who can come and see them,” Suplee explains. “Some live far away, and it can be hard to travel during the holiday.”

“People don’t plan to be on a transplant unit over Thanksgiving,” says Beard. “You never know when you’re going to get the call.”

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