What’s it like to live with a pancreas transplant? And why would you need one? Brandon Mouw was diagnosed with type 1 as a child and lived well with it for many years. He explains what happened to change that, what led to the transplant and how he’s doing now, a year and half later.
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Transcription coming soon!
Stacey Simms 0:00
Brandon, thanks so much for coming on the show. I am so interested to hear your story. Thank you so much.
Brandon Maow 0:08
Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Stacey Simms 0:10
Well, let me start by just asking you, how are you? How are you doing?
Brandon Maow 0:14
This is the best I’ve ever been in my entire life.
Stacey Simms 0:18
Brandon Maow 0:19
And I can attribute that to what I’ve been through. And that has brought me to being able to accept the way things are and just being happy with it.
Stacey Simms 0:31
What an amazing way to start. What a wonderful thing to hear right out of the gate. All right, so let’s go back. You were diagnosed with type one when you were very young. I don’t suppose at the age of three, you would remember too much, Do you remember anything about your diagnosis?
Brandon Maow 0:46
I remember one very specific thing. And that was when they drew blood for the first time. They took me, my parents took me to the hospital. And they took me back and it was two people and they didn’t tell me what was going on this is whatever you call them and tell me what was going on or anything. And I was held down, and they drew blood. And that was like the most traumatic thing I’ve ever experienced by that time. So that’s that’s all I remember from it.
Stacey Simms 1:16
Wow. My son was not yet to when he was diagnosed and the same thing happened, but he doesn’t remember it. He doesn’t remember it, but my daughter does because she was sitting outside the room and she’s screaming and what was it? “What are they doing to my brother?” I mean, it’s just so hard for little kids. But when you’re growing up with diabetes, would you say you had a fairly typical childhood with type one, I mean we’re gonna get to what led to the transplant and all of that, but I’m really curious what it was like for you when you were younger?
Brandon Maow 1:44
Yeah, I, my, I would say I had the most normal. I had the most normal, abnormal life you could. I grew up on a chicken Ranch, and it was kind of we were just a self-sustaining family that delivered eggs. To stores and markets throughout Southern California, but the diabetes never stopped me It never defined me it was just if I had a low blood sugar out we test it retreat it we move on. It wasn’t. It was I never felt like I was a victim of it. I never felt like it held me back. I played sports, I was always well taken care of. So I never looked at it as anything different than just who I was. It was just a part of me and I just lived with it.
Stacey Simms 2:30
I am so tempted to take this interview and make a huge left turn and talk about growing up on a chicken ranch. I will stop myself but I’m making a note if we have time. We’re coming back to that. Did you know anybody else was type one growing up?
Brandon Maow 2:46
No. The first person I met was when I went to a diabetic camp. In third grade. And I was around like 50 other diabetics of all different ages that were young It was like shocking to me. I was like, Oh, you’re doing shots. You were testing your blood. You’re having a low blood sugar like it was. It was like very eye opening to me because it was I lived kind of out in the middle of nowhere and never saw any other diabetics.
Stacey Simms 3:15
Did you go to that camp after that year?
Brandon Maow 3:18
Yeah, I went two years in a row.
Stacey Simms 3:22
Well, fast forward a little bit. When did you start feeling like your type 1 diabetes was not okay. I’m trying to figure out how to phrase that. But you know, how do you get to a point where a transplant would even be considered? Do you remember when things started to change?
Brandon Maow 3:36
Really, throughout my life? I always had, I think I was just predisposed to hypoglycemia or low blood sugars because I would have low blood sugars just kind of out of nowhere, and they would happen and we would treat them and we would move on like it was no big deal. However, I started having the Hypoglycemia low blood sugar issue, and it was constant every day. And I can attribute it to me having a kidney stone that essentially destroyed my kidney. And it led me to having six surgeries and then having the kidney removed because they could never get it back to functioning. And ever since I had the kidney issue, it was like my insulin, and food wouldn’t digest correctly, and the insulin couldn’t deliver the energy correctly, and it always turned to hypoglycemia. So that’s like the that’s the only thing in my life that happened when it changed. And so I attribute it to that
Stacey Simms 4:42
How old are you when that happened?
Brandon Maow 4:45
[I] was 28
Stacey Simms 4:47
I’m curious. Did doctors say anything to you at that time? Did anybody really draw a line from this to that?
Brandon Maow 4:54
No. And that was very frustrating. So I had gone from doctor to doctor saying you know saying look, I have I have this kidney problem. My blood sugars are all out of whack no matter what I just you like my life is I went from this well controlled life and everything was great to me then suddenly have it it was it was like I had control over my diabetes and then all of a sudden diabetes had control over me. And it felt like my power over just living a quality life was just dwindling. And I was searching for answers and no doctors had ever connected the dots. It never really made sense until I went to. I made a bunch of appointments and I went to a doctor and she just walked in the room and she just laid it out. He’s like, Look, this is what happened. Your body went into shock it didn’t know how to handle it, you can’t reset it and that’s what gets why you’re going to need the transplant or you’re going to die. So when that connection was made, it then made sense to everyone else when I explained it to them like, Yeah, that makes sense.
Stacey Simms 6:08
Oh wow. Wow, what kind of doctor was she?
Brandon Maow 6:11
It was an endocrinologist.
Stacey Simms 6:15
Okay, and what were you doing at the time? What kind of work were you in?
Brandon Maow 6:18
What was your like? So I had after the ranch was sold, I went to school. And then I went to more school and I became a teacher, a high school social studies teacher. And then after a few years of doing that, I just didn’t, I was bored. I liked the job, but it wasn’t challenging enough for me. Because growing up on the farm, you’re always busy. You’re always fixing a problem. You always have something to do. And being a teacher you have that but but there’s like this aspect that that it’s always fleeting. You have these students for a short amount of time and then it’s going to change over and everything is going to change and you kind of don’t have control over anything right now. Never really enjoyed that. So I was like, What else can I do? And I decided to apply to law school just out of nowhere. Why? It was kind of one of those things like why not let me throw a Hail Mary, if I could get in? I’m gonna do it. Let me just let me just try. And I got into law school and I was in my last year of law school when all this started happening.
Stacey Simms 7:27
Were you able to finish?
Brandon Maow 7:28
Yep, I finished with a with bags hanging out of my back to drain my kidneys. Yeah, it was a pretty it was a pretty interesting experience.
Stacey Simms 7:42
Oh, boy. Okay, so you see this endocrinologist? She says, Look, you’re young guy. You’ve been healthy your whole life. But now things have changed to the point where you need a transplant. What do you do next?
Brandon Maow 7:55
It’s so it was a huge relief to hear that it was the first time anyone offered me anything of help. Before that every doctor was like, try eating this. Let’s try this insulin. Let’s try this pump. Let’s try this CGM. Let’s do that I got a diabetic alert dog. And well they all would tell me I was having low blood sugars, it none of them would help prevent me from having low blood sugars to the point of me passing out to the point of them going to unreadable or like mistake or EMTs having to show up. And so this was the first time I received something that was an answer to the problem that I was having. And so I was really relieved of Okay, now I have something to work on and go off of. And so my my question was, well, what, how does that work? And she just, she just said, Hey, I’m going to refer you to the local transplant hospital, and you have to go from there. But she says, it’s very expensive and you’re gonna have to beg borrow and steal to get this done. But if you don’t, I don’t see you living past two years, if not sooner because one low blood sugar will cause you death. And that that was like really powerful for me to hear at that time because I was having so many lows a day. And so I called the transport hospital and I submitted all my information. And then they denied me to even see me as a patient because I would be considered high risk with one kidney. And my hypoglycemia and insurance doesn’t cover a pancreas only transplant because it’s in in the Affordable Care Act, just about every transplant is covered, which is considered medically necessary. And while a pancreas only transplant is considered medically necessary. It’s also considered an optional coverage. So as a insurance company, you’re not going to cover something that is optional. And that’s when I found out that I would have to come up with the money to pay for the transplant upfront.
Stacey Simms 10:20
I have a really dumb question. So I have heard about a pancreas and kidney transplant. Were you at all a candidate like did you ever think Alright, if they’re not going to cover this? Maybe I’ll cover if I go bigger. I mean, not want to
Brandon Maow 10:52
Oh, absolutely. So like, doing like doing research and talking and calling and doing everything I possibly could to get this figured out knowing that I’m like a ticking time bomb at this point. My kidney doctor got me into Mayo Clinic and I kept calling Mayo Clinic in Arizona, because that’s where that’s where I went to law school. At the time, and so I was there and that’s where all my doctors were. So it was continuing doctoring there. And he got me into mayo clinic for Oh, what’s it called a consultation. And I had to pay upfront for that consultation and all that kind of stuff, but they’re the ones that informed me. Okay, so here’s the deal with insurances if you were to get any other organ, the pancreas it would just it comes in like it’s a tag along if you qualify for any of these organs, you then get a pancreas if you’re also a diabetic, so you hear a lot of kidney, pancreas, liver, pancreas. Sometimes, I mean, they’ve done heart then pancreas, if anything, it can be any other organ plus or afterwards with the pancreas. So that’s how that that’s how that works.
Stacey Simms 11:53
This is a terrible thing to say. I know you don’t know me very well. I apologize for a sense of humor. It’s like one of those Amazon add on’s You can’t buy it by itself. But yeah, if you go for this, we’ll throw it in. I mean, why is that it’s so strange,
Brandon Maow 12:08
I guess because they’re already doing it and they see the other organ as the more important one because diabetes can be controlled through diet and insulin. So the and the reason why we didn’t wait for the kidney because I only have one kidney is that more than likely my one kidney is because I had the other one removed from the kidney stone complications, my one kidney would be fine for the rest of my life. So I would, I wouldn’t make it long enough to see if there would be any problem with my kidney. And so the direction from Mayo Clinic, a transplant Hospital, one of the best in the country said you need the pancreas only transplant to live and we also need $250,000 upfront in order to consider you a candidate.
Stacey Simms 13:03
Okay, before we get to raising the money and the procedure, how were you living at the time I have a friend who was part of the islet cell transplant studies years ago because she could not live by herself, right? She couldn’t drive she couldn’t even walk out of the house. She was having, as you’re kind of explaining here, that same kind of completely unpredictable and dangerous hypoglycemia, where it’s not I mean, we think about with like, my son, oh, if he’s playing sports, he’s going to go low, or he might have a weird drop overnight. But I assumed that you couldn’t really do anything on your own at that point. If it was so severe.
Brandon Maow 13:34
Yeah, so it it went, it got to a point where I couldn’t go to work anymore. It was just, it was just horrible. I couldn’t wake up like I think it’s hard for people to understand really what like a low blood sugar does. Just in general, especially when it’s perpetual. So like low blood sugar takes all of your energy away, meaning that the body burns every ounce of energy, it has to feel the body and your brain start shutting down. And so when you eat sugar or sugar water or you take glucagon, your body then is provided the sugar to start back up only if you can catch it in time. And so every time your brain shuts down, your body starts shutting down. Much like a battery, you have to recharge it and it has to reset and repair itself. But your body’s not meant to do that. So after so many times, you start losing the ability to recover. And so the low blood sugars would just be so perpetual, that just even like, going to doctor’s appointments, and having to work or making phone calls or to think about things became almost impossible because I had so Many low blood sugars a whole day would go by and I wouldn’t even realize it. And so I ended up having to move in with somebody that would help me and that I could call and that would check on me. And all of that kind of stuff. I stopped working and focused primarily on figuring out what was wrong and and getting myself better, because I didn’t have any other option at the time.
Stacey Simms 15:27
So they tell you, it’s going to take a quarter of a million dollars. Yep. You’re how do you do that? What do you What did you do?
Brandon Maow 15:34
Well, that was a huge blow because I was like, Well, now what? Um, I don’t have piles of cash sitting in my bank, like bank account. My my family doesn’t have money. And and so I and and before this, all this transplant stuff happened. I was a very private person. You wouldn’t know I was a diabetic unless I had told you. I wore my diabetic medical ID bracelet. No one ever asked what it was about, even when I was found by emergency personnel, they didn’t even pay attention to it. And so it was pretty private about that kind of stuff. And then it came to this point where I needed to find the money. I didn’t know how to get it, who to ask and couldn’t take out a loan. I had student loans, I wasn’t working. And I could even if I sold everything I owned, I could I would barely have like 15,000. So it was like, what do you do I and I started asking and researching and it’s kind of unfortunate because you read all about these sad stories about how many people have tried to raise the money and then they passed away while trying to do it and, and all that kind of stuff. And essentially my roommate who was helping keeping an eye on me and my mom built said at about the same time, look, let’s just put your information out there and see what happens. And I was like, Nope, I’m not doing that. I don’t want people to feel bad for me. I don’t want people to know what I’m going through. This is so embarrassing. I can’t believe this happening to me. This is not what I want to be known as in life. I am not I am not a victim. And I kind of broke down and it was like I don’t have any other option. And I did and my roommate put together a Go Fund Me. I wrote a letter that we sent out to friends and family that wouldn’t know what was going on with me. And nothing really happened. No one called me to ask, you know what is going on what was happening? I did get a phone call from a family member telling me off like how dare I do this. Like I was doing something wrong and then randomly got a check in the mail from from some completely anonymous check, which was enough to get everything started rolling with mayo clinic and when I got that and we were able to post that online, all of a sudden it like opened the floodgates and got the ball rolling and then people started to donate because they saw that what it was going through was real and it was legitimize by somebody who donated money and I and that was pretty like broke every stereotype that I had about people and just not caring and and me putting myself out there and showing myself like being vulnerable and that weakness. It took it kind of took that away and just said you know there are some good people out there not not everybody is bad and out to get me.
Stacey Simms 18:59
Did you ever find After that anonymous donor was?
Brandon Maow 19:01
Stacey Simms 19:02
Wow. That’s incredible. So you’re you’re in the system. I mean, we can’t go through everything because I’m sure it was a long and complicated road. But how long was it from the time that you were able to say to the Mayo Clinic Okay, I’m in to the point where they called you to say transplant days now.
Brandon Maow 19:21
Stacey Simms 19:23
Oh, that’s not that long.
Brandon Maow 19:24
No. So the pancreas pancreas only transplant has the shortest waitlist of all transplants.
Stacey Simms 19:32
How does it what happens? Is it like in the movies where they give you the call in the middle of the night, you know, get to the hospital. How does it work?
Brandon Maow 19:40
Yeah, it’s, I mean, it is so they tell you like, hey, it’s going to be so okay. So I raised the money. I have everything ready to go. People came through like I am just shocked as all get out. It was like, everything opposite happened the way it was supposed to, but It happened because I fought for everything. It wasn’t like everyone was like Okay, now we’re going to go on to step two It was like no be calling saying, Okay, what is step two?
Stacey Simms 20:10
How do you push during those two months you still have to push and-
Brandon Maow 20:14
I had to push Yeah, and raising the money and it took me three months and all that kind of stuff to get to get everything done. It was me making sure that that connection was always made and that the ball was always rolling because had I not done that nothing would have happened and that’s okay. That’s that’s just the way it is. But yeah, so I get the call. And it’s the it was Christmas and. December’s are usually when I’ve always had my surgeries or bad things have happened with the family. So I’m just expecting to get through the holidays and hoping for the new year. I’m like, Oh, the new year is gonna be so great. I might, I might get the call and I get the call and I have a whole Chain of people who are who get the call, I don’t answer the call and all that kind of stuff. And I said hello. And on the other line was a lady and she says, Are you ready to get a new pancreas?
Stacey Simms 21:13
It’s like Oprah.
Brandon Maow 21:14
Yeah. And I was like, Huh,
Stacey Simms 21:16
the way you said it, I’m sorry I laughed.
Brandon Maow 21:19
No, but that’s exactly what she said when she and I said, Well, yeah, and and so she says, we have an identical match, which meant that it was my blood type and my HLA type, and the HLA is when they take my blood sample and the blood sample from the donor, and they put it together under a microscope, and they see if the blood that basically comes together and interacts or if it fights, and apparently everything was good. And then she mentioned that it’s a brain dead. So someday, they were going to take off life support. And so that kind of hit me to that. Hey, I I’m going to be given a second chance at life because someone had to die. And then that’s pretty powerful in itself. And that’s like the greatest gift you can receive. So she says, How soon can you be there? I said, When do you need me? She said, just get here within two hours. So I got there. And it was about nine o’clock at night, I walked into the emergency room. I said, my name is Brandon. Maow they told me to tell you that they’re ready for me and the doors. The two big doors opened, like like, oh, and a lady was walking down the hall and called my name and and I went right in and she was like, start taking your clothes off. So as I’m walking down the hall, I’m taking my clothes off and they’re then they run every test they can. They’re sticking things up my nose, and he’s just like crazy. And they run every single test. And then all the surgeons, all of the medical, just like the just everyone’s coming in asking questions doing all these things and you hear I’m thinking, well, is this actually going to happen? Is this actually going through because they told me that it would be a whirlwind, like it would be something completely unexpected. But nine times out of 10, you’re going to get called in more than once because you’re going to show up, the organ is going to show up and it’s not going to be perfect. And so here I am going, Okay, this is my trial run. This is, you know, we’re just testing it out. And then the surgeon came in, and this surgeon was the person, the same surgeon that did my consultation. And that was like such a relief to know that she knew my story. She had met my diabetic alert dog. So the first thing she said when she walked in because I had all people around me was Where’s your dog? And I thought, wow, like that was that was like so like, Comforting to hear that. I think I couldn’t bring him in a while. I think I think this is going to be a good year for you. It’s gonna be a Christmas miracle.
Stacey Simms 24:11
Wow, that’s incredible to think about. So this is the day after Christmas.
Brandon Maow 24:18
The day after Christmas. So they took Today wheeled me back. So I’m this is just my assumption. Mayo. Here’s the way male Mayo clinics pretty cool. So they always have they have six transplant surgeons, they, each surgeon can do every transplant. They’re a specialist at that. And then so what they had a person they’re getting a transplant at the time. So I’m the day after Christmas. I’m assuming it was another person like me that got called in. And so the anesthesiologist that I had just spoken to was in the other room doing something and so I was sitting in the room waiting for him to come in to administer everything. thing. And I was looking around and everyone was talking to me. And here was the surgeon and her three assistants. They were all over silver stainless bowl, working on the pancreas. And I was like, oh my gosh. And then on this big whiteboard, I could see all the information and all of my scans and my x rays laid out. And it was just like, incredible. It’s like you’re sitting there, it’s like in slow motion, you can just see everything and the potential. And the doctor walked up. The anesthesiologist walked up and said, All right, time for your new life. And when I woke up, I wasn’t in pain. Because in all my kidney surgeries, I was always in pain. And I was like, was it successful. And the lady was like, Yeah, I was like, how do you know she’s like, well, you’re not you’re not on insulin in your blood sugar’s 82.
Stacey Simms 25:59
Wow. That was an incredible feeling.
Brandon Maow 26:03
Yeah, I mean, it was the most crazy thing to experience. It was like the first time like, I could start processing emotions, like, Oh my gosh, is this the end of my problems? Like, do I not have to worry about this instant death from these low blood sugars? Like, like, what is what is the future look like? What is going to happen and like, you get flooded with all these things. But yeah, it was the first time in two years, I wasn’t just having a constant low blood sugar in it, it felt amazing.
Stacey Simms 26:35
So I feel really fortunate to be talking to you a year and a half later, because you have had to figure out how to live this new life with I assume no insulin. But I also assumed and I’ve seen you on you’re very open now, which was a big change on social media, about taking medications about the anti rejection drugs, the regimen that you have to go through. So first question is Are you still off insulin
Brandon Maow 27:00
Stacey Simms 27:02
Wow, what is that like in and of itself because you were diagnosed again at three years old?
Brandon Maow 27:07
Yeah, I did not know life without insulin. So it’s even to this day. It’s strange because I’m told to be fat and happy and eat, because they want that pancreas to work and they want it to be producing insulin, but it’s so foreign to me to like, just eat like a non low carb diet. And so I’ll eat like for instance, I ate lunch not too long ago and I had chicken, asparagus and strawberries and I’m like, Okay, what are the carbs? I’m like, No, I don’t even have to worry about that. Like why am I still thinking of that? But I do have hypoglycemia still. which kicks in every once in a while. And the theory behind it is Is that because my body is not used to it and that my liver hasn’t gained its ability to kind of control that those lower blood sugars because the liver holds on to Glucagon or glucogen. that it hasn’t built itself up yet. So I do still have to test my blood and keep track of that. Because the hypo’s I get every once in a while.
Stacey Simms 28:26
How’s your dog does your dog kind of confused now that he doesn’t need to alert as much
Brandon Maow 28:31
he he is living his best life. So he’s, he’s retired and he just has fun and he is still he is like, he is so well. So good at what he does and well trained. He comes up and and as often as he can, he comes in smells me to see how my blood sugar is doing. And then you can just see him like he’s just so happy that he doesn’t have to alert me and then he’ll go and then he’ll just walk around and just be happy. He is like, he doesn’t know what to do because for two years he was with me by my side, my, my, my friend, my, my companion, the person that would save my life. And now he just gets to be a dog. And it’s pretty, it’s pretty cool. And I’m very happy that he’s able to live that life.
Stacey Simms 29:22
What’s his name?
Brandon Maow 29:23
Stacey Simms 29:24
Oh, I’m sorry. So tell us what you do have to do. I assume that you’re there’s a lot of medication. Forgive me. I don’t really I’m not that familiar. But you always hear that, Oh, you don’t really want to transplant because there’s so much to do write there’s so many medications to take. What is it really like?
Brandon Maow 29:39
Yeah, they tell you that, like, oh, there’s the medications are just terrible. It’s so much better just to stay on insulin and all that kind of stuff. And now that I’ve had the year and a half experience with it, I can tell you that the side effects are pretty intense. changes you like, like, the side effects of that I experienced are like mine, my entire g.i system and stomach is just it’s always a little bit upset and it’s just never settled because of some of the medication you have to take and, and the medications that I take are anti rejection, which means that they suppress my immune system so that my body won’t fight against the organ and the transplanted organ, and I’ve had two bouts of rejection. And so every time they up the amount of medication that I’m taking, which then worsens the side effects, and they come with things like they eat away at your muscle, and you have to take a steroids so you’re always like this weird bloated and you can’t sleep at night, and then you have to take one that damages your kidney. If you don’t keep track of it correctly and it also causes like muscle tremors and hair loss and head aches and all of that kind of stuff. And so I agree like the the medication is quite a daunting task. However, after being a diabetic for 31 years, and struggling through those low blood sugars, the trade off is nothing. It’s like saying it’s like saying, I would say a difference is between a one hundred dollar bill the 100 dollar bill is like low blood sugars, and all that kind of stuff versus a penny. And so I would take the penny any day over the hundred dollar bill with all the problems. I don’t like that. I don’t know if that’s a good analogy, or if that makes sense.
Stacey Simms 31:44
It makes sense. But let me ask it this way, because what I’m trying to get at is when my son was diagnosed, several people said to me over a period of years, well, can’t he just have a pancreas transplant? And my response was always well, the doctors told us that for a healthy person with One, it really isn’t worth it. And I guess that’s kind of what I was asking because your situation was, was not the ordinary experience. So I think we’re all individuals, I really can’t ask you to make this choice for anybody else. But what I was trying to get at in a weird way was sort of more. When someone who doesn’t have diabetes says to a parent like me, well, you should just get a pancreas transplant or put them on the list. I would imagine that’s that’s not a good trade off for someone who doesn’t have those chronic hypoglycemia incidents, who is living a good life with type one?
Brandon Maow 32:31
Yes. And I think that that perspective is correct, because when I was a well controlled diabetic, it didn’t impact my life. Like, minimally, the amount of doctor’s appointments that I have to go to now the amount of blood work, the amount of fear of rejection, all that kind of stuff. This was a last chance effort at making things right, as a diabetic and so I think Always having the option of the transplant is is a good card to have to play later on if anything ever goes wrong. But if you can control your blood sugar’s and you are doing well with it. I think that the best way to handle it is to stay on insulin. And just live your best life because you’re far more prevented from doing things with a transplant on the medications because a common cold will kill me. If I catch COVID it will kill me. And that’s because I don’t have an immune system. And so, well, well I have a much different life. Now. I am alive and I feel good. But just because I’m not taking insulin doesn’t mean that I’m cured. The moment something stops working, I am back to the same exact spot that it was. And so that’s that’s not a cure. It’s just it’s a pause in what I was going through.
Stacey Simms 33:58
What is this? COVID situation like for you as you said, you have to be so much more careful have you left your house since March?
Brandon Maow 34:07
At first I didn’t because we didn’t know what was going on and so now that we kind of have a better idea of what what goes on with it, what symptoms look like all that kind of stuff. I just I take my temperature every morning. I go and live the best life that I can I wear my face mask I am constantly using my disinfectant wipes and Lysol wipes and everything like that. And I balance that life of do I live in a bubble or do I live life and where’s that balance of being safe with with it all and so I just try to do the best I can. I’m not like if I go to the grocery store I’m in and out as quick as possible. I don’t interact I don’t touch anything except what I absolutely need to and then wash everything. Go home and do the best. You can I mean, I still have to live life. I can’t. I couldn’t I cannot have gone through all that event through to simply live in a bubble. That doesn’t make sense to me.
Stacey Simms 35:09
I saw a picture of you on Instagram with a surfboard. Do you see
Brandon Maow 35:13
ya? Mm hmm.
Stacey Simms 35:16
Would you surf before?
Not nearly as much as 35:19
Stacey Simms 35:20
Brandon Maow 35:22
I love the ocean, but I prefer fishing. And but so well I’m not able to fish as much as I would like I, my brother lives very close to the ocean. I’m about 45 minute drive away. And so I go and I surf with him quite often.
Stacey Simms 35:40
You know, it’s, it’s remarkable to talk to you because you’re, you have a very, try to say this. You really have a very open attitude to all of this in terms of sharing the story and yet, you know, being frankly quite inspirational and yet incredibly grounded at the same time because you seem to be well aware of the risks. And you know, I’m sure that all the doctors talk to you very frankly, as well. And yet here you are not staying home all the time. You’re playing with your dog, you’re surfing you’re I see that, you know, your fitness regime on Instagram as well. How do you balance all of that? I mean, you’re a very young person. And at the same time, you’ve been through more than many people go through in their life.
Brandon Maow 36:26
Yeah so when I made myself vulnerable, and if that was like my worst fear in the world, I didn’t care really about anything else. It was just that whole vulnerability thing. When people when it when I when people showed me that they cared about me, when I was given an Oregon by somebody who passed away. That was my second chance at life. That was basically my validation of saying, hey, you need to enjoy life. stop caring so much about what other people think. And then a doctor told me when she saw me two months after my transplant, she walked in the room and started crying. And I was like, What is going on? And she was like, I was the doctor who saw you. In your consultation. I was like, Yeah, I remember she goes Brandon. I didn’t think you’d make it to the transplant. But she goes, she’s seeing you today is like the most motivating thing I’ve ever done. She goes, whatever you did, you need to share that with people because people need the motivation who are going through things that they think that are impossible to overcome. And at first, I was like, that’s just dumb. But really, it’s true because I couldn’t find any information about someone that was going through what I was going through online, it was like impossible. And so I decided I was like, Okay, I’m gonna put my stuff out there and just see what happens. And now I I am happy and proud that I consider myself as a resource online for people who are going through something similar that can find me and ask me questions and that can see that I haven’t let this stop me. I am not a victim of bad circumstances, things happen to me, but I, I work through them, I break those boundaries down and I move forward. And just where I’m at in life right now, I feel like that’s what’s needed for me to put out there for people and for inspiration. And as long as I can do that, I’m going to keep doing it.
Stacey Simms 38:32
I have one last question. I’ve been dying to ask for 40 minutes. Tell me about the chicken ranch. How many? How many chickens What did you do? I mean, you’re a little kid. You’re running and you’re getting eggs. I know you’re thinking this Stacy, this is a very simple thing to do. I grew up near a city. I know nothing.
Brandon Maow 38:51
Yeah, like so. We had a small egg ranch and over as I grew older, it became bigger because population grew everything, everything got bigger. So we had a chicken Ranch, we had three chicken buildings, each building held about 25,000 chickens. And you’d have to feed them twice a day, collect the eggs once a day. And then you would candle them on a machine that you would put them on it would wash them, it would weigh them, and then it would package them, then you’d box them, load them in trucks and go deliver them to companies. And it’s all about raising the chick chickens from the time they’re hatched. To the time they can lay eggs and throughout that entire process. And so it was a very interesting thing to to grow up in and it definitely taught me what responsibility meant from a very young age. And I cannot imagine having a different childhood because when I when I hear about what people’s childhoods were, I’m like, oh my god That just sounds so boring to me. Because no I would, I really would, I would get up and I would go check on things or when I would get home I would see it the lights weren’t working correctly. So I’d go change the timer, and just going and delivering eggs with my dad. And just like all those memories of growing up on a farm, it is what you think it is what you imagine it’s just its land, with the animals and with all the machinery and just working and all you’re doing every day is is making sure that those chickens are well taken care of. And the customers get their their eggs and their product and doing the best that you can. And it’s it’s pretty. It’s a pretty amazing way to Grow up. Yeah.
Stacey Simms 40:45
All right. Is there anything about chickens that would surprise us? I mean, I think we all think we know chickens pretty simple. They’re not. They’re not really well. I know a couple people have chickens as pets, which seems very weird. But is there any anything? It’s just the dumbest question, Brandon, I can’t I just I’m curious. I think there’s no that’s fine.
Brandon Maow 41:02
No, no. So I mean, I really I don’t know like in what aspect to me the most the most docile chickens I’ve ever come in contact with are called Rhode Island reds, they’re, they’re brown chickens and they lay brown eggs. Those were if you go in the store and you generally see white and brown eggs, and so the brown eggs usually come from Rhode Island red chickens. And then there’s a lot of other types of chickens that lay different colored eggs that have a gorgeous use the chicken with like the light or dark meat, there are chickens that actually have like squid ink color skin, and when you when if you were to cook them, their meat is dark and black, like squid ink. So it they’re very interesting, very multifaceted animal and that there they are an amazing animal. They seem so simple, but but they are pretty amazing and smart of what they can do and what they can accomplish.
Stacey Simms 42:11
That’s fascinating. All right, that’s for another podcast all together. we’ll have you back on and we’ll talk chickens more. I’m just I had to ask sorry. I will of course link up all the ways to find you. If listeners want to continue to follow your story. What happens next? Is there anything medically that has to fall in line for you? Is it just a six month or annual checkup? We know what happens?
Brandon Maow 42:33
Yeah, so I’m so with the pancreas only transplant. It’s pretty rare. They do less than 100 of them per year. Not every transplant hospital is good at them. They don’t have a very good success rate. And so basically, the pancreas only is kept track of very carefully for the first three years. So right now I’m doing bloodwork every two to three weeks. My medication gets changed based on that bloodwork. They’re looking for therapeutic levels. And they’re looking for the enzymes in the pancreas. And what they are, and that kind of tells them how well or how healthy the pancreas is. And so that’s what they’re, they’re constantly looking for. So I’m halfway through the the three year point. And so for the next year and a half, and it be continuing that, and then from there, it’ll start going to probably every three months and every six months and I’ll be every year but in between there there will always be bloodwork done, and so in keeping a close eye on it just because it is a very delicate organ and you get to think of it like this. It’s very similar to transplanting a piece of jello. So just imagine making that a success. So that’s what that’s why they keep such a close eye on you.
Stacey Simms 43:58
Wow. Well, I could talk to you all day, obviously, but Brandon, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story All the best to you and I can’t wait to see how this goes and continue to follow your story as you shared on Instagram and elsewhere. Thanks so much Keep us posted.
Brandon Maow 44:13
I appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me on Stacey.