After graduating from college in 1988, Kristen Ahern worked for Frankel & Co., the top national marketing agency in the late eighties and early nineties. While at this company, she created and executed marketing and promotional campaigns for McDonalds, Visa, United and Supercuts. Following her work at Frankel & Co., she was hired in 1994 by TargetCom, a start-up marketing agency. There she developed, created and ran a quality control department, along with supervising several facets of the business.
In 2000, Kristen put her marketing career on hold. For the past 12 years she says she has had the honor and privilege to stay home and raise her greatest prize possessions, her children, Giovanni (12) and Shannon (10) with her husband of 19 years, John Ahern. Kristen and her family are active community members in Darien, IL.
Kristen was diagnosed in 2003 with a rare auto-immune disease named Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC). The only cure for this slow-progression liver disease was a liver transplant and her best option was a living donor.
When her Northwestern doctor of nine years, Dr. Stephen Flamm, told her she should investigate her option of a living donor, she was proactive and held an event where 250 family and close friends were present. Dr. Flamm was a guest speaker and discussed particulars about her disease and how the living donor transplant process worked. After that event, 27 individuals came forward and signed up to be tested to be her donor.
On January 25, 2012, Kristen had a successful liver transplant surgery at Northwestern Medicine. Tim Phalen, Kristen’s college friend, was her living donor. Both are living healthy and active lives today.
After receiving the best care by all the staff at Northwestern Medicine, I knew that I did not want my story to end. I want to take my transplant experience and provide support for newly diagnosed transplant patients and their donors. I would also like to see the research efforts of these brilliant doctors come to fruition to help better the whole transplant process for future recipients and donors.