Tom Satkowiak: I am eternally grateful to a family I've never met

KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- Assistant Director of Communications for University of Tennessee Athletics, Tom Satkowiak, was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis -- A potentially deadly liver disease in 2012.

Now Satkowiak is on a mission to bring awareness of the importance of being an organ donor.

"PSC is a nasty terrible liver disease," says Satkowiak's wife, Brooke. "Not only does it destroy the liver, but it wreaks havoc on just about every single body part you can imagine. He suffered from osteoporosis, had multiple bone fractures all the time he itched all the time, he had swelling in his extremities, he was in constant pain, he was chronically fatigued, he just didn't feel like himself."

"During the toughest days that Tom was going through his illness, I can tell you, he never ever wanted anybody to feel sorry for him," said University of Tennessee Basketball Coach, Rick Barnes. "He never wanted anyone to think there was anything wrong. He was as courageous as any person I've ever been around."

When it was time for Satkowiak to be put on the transplant list, his family was elated.

"A year went by, then another year went by, and then another year went by, and then finally in the fourth year of waiting, he started to get really really sick," said Brooke. "He did get the call. On the morning of October 17, 2018. We just had the overall feeling of thankfulness and gratefulness, but at the same time, we were grieving for another family. We don't know where they were, or what the circumstances were but they had just had an incredible loss. Their loved one decided to something extremely selfless to give an organ to someone that they didn't even know."

Our program is built on the motto 'It's not about me,'" said Coach Barnes. "If there's anyone in our program that lives that, it's Tom Satkowiak."

"I am eternally grateful to a family I've never met, who during a time of grieving and loss made the decision to deliver the ultimate assist," said Satkowiak. "It saved my life. Please be the gift today."

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