Wichita State Shockers

Shocker bowling assistant’s wife battles complications after liver transplant

The detailed, heart-breaking e-mail updates come several times a day from Wichita State assistant bowling coach Mark Lewis. It is his way of including the 214 friends and family members on the e-mail list in his wife’s fight for her life after a liver transplant.

“Danita is back in her room,” Lewis wrote on Wednesday afternoon. “Puncture site is on her right side near her drain. Gave her a little bit of pain medicine. She is resting easy with easier breathing and lower heart rate. Tissue went to pathology. I’ll let you know when I get an update. Has been lucid today.”

Danita Lewis, 48, is fighting infection, pneumonia and other ailments after a liver transplant on Aug. 15. On most days she needs a breathing tube because breathing on her own exhausts her energy. On May 15, she was diagnosed with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, an auto-immune disease that destroys bile ducts within the liver. The cause, according to the American Liver Foundation, is unknown and 90 percent of PBC cases are women.

The disease moved quickly in Lewis’ case, sending her to the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.

“It’s hard to imagine,” Mark Lewis said. “It got worse so fast she jumped to the top of the transplant list.”

Now there are fears she may be rejecting the transplant and doctors performed a biopsy on Wednesday. One day after the transplant, Danita Lewis endured a second surgery on the liver and her recovery faltered.

“Since then she’s struggled,” Mark Lewis said. “It’s been up and down, where she starts to do a little better and then gets worse. When you’re on an immune suppressant for the transplant, it’s tough to fight off things that don’t bother most people.”

Danita Lewis is one of 12 children in her family. With family, friends and the WSU bowling community on task, she has plenty of support.

“We haven’t been able to get her out of the ICU,” Shocker coach Gordon Vadakin said. “I can’t begin to tell you what they’re going through up there. I can’t express it adequately. We’re all in pain on this thing. We’re all suffering right along with them.”

Former WSU bowler Brent Bowers created a web site (www.gofundme.com/danitalewisrecoveryfund) to raise money to help with expenses.

“The financial implications of this are off the charts,” Vadakin said. “You’ve got a lot of people out there praying for her.”