Gift of Liver Offers New Hope for Avid Outdoorsman

Trae Jennings | Organ recipient

Trae Jennings is always seeking his next adventure, whether it’s fishing, hunting, snowboarding, surfing, or paddleboarding. With such an active lifestyle, it’s hard to believe that at one point, this father of two was dying of liver failure.

“They put me in hospice,” he said. “I was supposed to pass away peacefully.”

Trae JenningsTrae’s health struggles started when he was born with a fatty liver. This genetic condition didn’t slow him down much at first. Trae became a high school football star and an avid surfer. But his health deteriorated over time, thanks to the stress of starting a successful electronic security company, combined with lifestyle habits that took their toll. Eventually Trae was told there was little hope of survival unless he received a liver transplant.

To make matters worse, he wasn’t a good candidate for the procedure because his health was so poor. In fact, he was given last rites at one point. His family came to say their goodbyes.

In spite of the challenges, Trae was determined to live. He had the support of his two daughters, and he leaned into his faith. “I found the Lord, and he found me,” he said.

Eventually, a liver became available, and Trae was rushed to the transplant center. Still, his battle wasn’t over. There were questions about whether he could be prepped for surgery in time. He managed to push through the preliminary medical steps, and the operation was a go. There were more setbacks during and following the procedure, but Trae has continued to beat the odds.

Today, he believes it’s a miracle that he survived – and now he’s doing better than ever. You might even say he’s thriving. “My health is great,” he said. “Physically I’m in the best shape in my life. I’m five pounds more than when I was playing football in high school. I’m living a life that is unbelievable. Without the liver none of this would’ve happened. It changed everything.”

Trae has reached out to thank his donor family for giving him a second chance at life. “I am forever grateful for whoever gave me the liver,” he said. “I can’t say enough how it changes your life.”

Helping others to find joy is also important to him. “The good Lord didn’t just put us down here to survive, he put us here to thrive,” he said. “Have fun at whatever you are doing, whether it is work, cleaning the toilet, cutting wood, make fun of it. Laugh it off and have fun with it.”