Valance Sams Sr. believes that he has experienced “a miracle.”
Sams, now 46, underwent a triple organ transplant in the spring of 2023, making him one of fewer than 50 people in the United States to ever receive three new organs via transplantation.
He received a new heart, kidney and liver during a 20-hour operation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles that involved around 15 surgeons, nurses, doctors, and other health professionals.
Ten years ago, Sams was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a rare inflammatory disease that causes a buildup of scar tissue in the body’s organs. In his case, the disease affected his heart, and he was unable to work, exercise or even walk. His condition worsened and caused gradual damage to his liver, all the while placing real stress on his kidneys.
“If the heart’s not working, it can cause something called congestive hepatopathy in the liver, where the liver starts not to work very well,” Dr. Irene Kim, director of Cedar Sinai’s Comprehensive Transplant Center, said in a Cedars video. “That can cause chronic and permanent damage of the liver, and it can also cause stress on the kidneys.”
It was a grim cascade of progressive organ shutdown for Sams, making daily life a struggle.
“Before, I had trouble getting to the car in the morning, just a struggle walking on most days. Until [each] Friday, when I get the paracentesis — that’s when they drain the fluid out of the stomach. Then I can move around a little better,” Sams explained in the video.
As a result, the single dad from Baldwin Hills, Calif., had to quit film school. Teenage son Valance Jr. stepped up to be his main caretaker.
“Since the beginning, he’s been like my nurse, my best friend, my brother — a whole lot,” Sams said of his son.
But after a two-month hospital stay, a matching heart, liver and kidney from a single donor were available for