Nick and Devin Coats, twin brothers who were described as inseparable, were dealt a devastating blow when they both were diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Their mother, Margi, created a GoFundMe page in order for each of the twin brothers to receive a life-saving liver transplant. Unfortunately, only Devin received the organ he needed. Nick tragically passed away before receiving the life-saving surgery.
Earlier last year, Nick called his mom from school. He was complaining of an intense pain in his legs. It was so bad, he said, that he couldn’t even stay seated at his desk. His mother took him to the emergency room, where a blood test showed that Nick’s platelet level was significantly lower than it should be. As Nick and Devin were identical twins, the doctor recommended that Devin is examined as well. Both twins were diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. While cirrhosis is often a result of alcoholism, it occurred in the twin brothers as a result of a genetic mutation.
It was too late for the cirrhosis to be treated, so the twin brothers had to be put on the organ transplant list. However, as a condition of the transplant list, doctors had to wait for the boys’ conditions to worsen. It was a risky move, as there are generally fewer livers than are required for everyone who needs one. According to a report from the Washington Post, in 2016 there were 7,841 livers transplanted, however, 14,000 people were left on the waiting list. The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network states that there are currently 74,951 people actively waiting for an organ transplant.
It was in the waiting that problems started to develop. Lesions had begun to form on Nick’s liver, and he was eventually diagnosed with angiosarcoma. A rare form of cancer. Angiosarcoma can form in the skin, spleen, or liver, but it manifests as a cancer of the inner lining of blood vessels. A GoFundMe page was started for the twins, in order to raise money for their treatments. Margi wrote on the page “a healthy young twin boy, is now battling cancer on top of cirrhosis of the liver. What do I do now? How do I accept this? Why God, why? All of these questions and so many others flew through my mind.”
In a Facebook post from March 19th, Margi wrote that if Nick “didn’t have to wait due to the lack of liver donors nationwide, he would’ve been transplanted before time allowed the liver cancer to develop as well.” According to statistics on organdonor.gov, 20 people die every day in the United States while they are waiting for an organ transplant, and a new person is added to the list every ten minutes. Despite these numbers, there continues to be an organ shortage in the United States, as only 54% of adults are signed up to be organ donors. 12.3% of people on the transplant list require a liver, with the majority waiting for kidney transplants.
In January of this year, a liver became available, and Devin was told he could undergo transplant surgery. However, Devin showed his dedication to his twin brother when he pleaded to let Nick receive the transplant first. However, as Nick was undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the time, he was not healthy enough for the surgery. Devin’s liver transplant was successful. A liver became available for Nick in February. Unfortunately, as doctors prepared him for surgery, they discovered that the cancer they thought Nick had beaten had actually metastasized. There was nothing that could be done, even with a new liver. Nick passed away on March 19th, finally succumbing to his illness.
Margi wrote on the GoFundMe page that Nick had told doctors all he wanted to do in the near future was “to walk across that stage and graduate.” Sadly, Nick would never have the opportunity, but he is remembered fondly by his brother Devin. In an interview with ABC news, Devin said “I asked him, I said, ‘Is there anything specific you want me to do while I’m coming up and going through life itself?’ And he said ‘just be me, just do what I want to do.’ And I said, ‘I got that.’” Margi wrote of Nick in a Facebook post “My baby Nick fought hard to have a new chance at life. He was strong. He was courageous. Nick was my protector and He loved his family. Nick showed others his genuine heart and was a good friend to many.”
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