Watch a Facebook Live with the Pittsburgh Steelers' Cam Heyward

Video: A Conversation with Dr. Abhi Humar and Cam Heyward

Did you know about 18,000 people in the United States are on the waitlist for a liver transplant? Each year, 9,000 new patients are added to the list — but only 6,000 liver transplants are performed.

What could change everything? More people registering to become living liver donors.

RELATED: What Is Living-Donor Liver Transplant Surgery?

Watch Abhi Humar, MD, chief of liver transplantation at UPMC, and Cam Heyward of the Pittsburgh Steelers talk about the impact one living donor can have, and learn more about how you can become a living liver donor.

For more, visit the UPMC Transplant Services website.

 

Read the Full Transcript from Our Discussion on Living-Donor Liver Donation

Tunch Ilkin: Hello, everybody. Welcome to the UPMC and Donate Life Facebook live. I have the privilege of hosting your show today. My name is Tunch Ilkin with the Steelers Radio Network. I have two very, very special guests here. First of all, let me introduce to you Dr. Abhi Humar, chief of the division of transplantation at UPMC. Doc how are you doing?

 

Dr. Humar: I’m doing great. Pleasure to be here.

 

Tunch Ilkin:

[00:00:30]

Great to be with you. Then a guy that needs no introduction, Steelers defensive captain, Cam Heyward. Cam, how you doing man?

 

Cam Hayward: I’m good. I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to be with both of you guys.

 

Tunch Ilkin: I know. This is going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to get some insight in this really very, very cool technology that’s been developed, but let’s start with you though because everybody wants to know. Looking back, your thoughts of this season?

 

Cam Hayward:

[00:01:00]

I thought it was a very productive season from a lot of guys. So many guys stepped up in different ways. I don’t want to look at my injury as a reason, but you look at guys along the defensive line, the defense as a whole, new guys in Ladaruis Green stepping up, Le’veon Bell coming back healthy and being a productive factor for us, Ben having a great year, AB having a great year. It was an exciting year, just tough the way it ended.

 

Tunch Ilkin:

[00:01:30]

It’s kind of like deceleration trauma losing in the AFC championship game. Now the off-season, you’re out here? You going to go train somewhere else for a while?

 

Cam Hayward: Well I’ve been around here for a while, so I got to get out of here or I’m going to go a little stir-crazy. It’s been fun. I’m just ready to get back out it, business we’re thinking about.

 

Tunch Ilkin:

 

 

[00:02:00]

Well, we’re going to get back to talking more about the Steelers, but now we’d like to move the discussion to a very, very important topic. Here’s something you might not know. Dr. Humar knows this. There are approximately 18,000 people on the waiting list for a liver transplant in the United States. Each year, about 9,000 new patients are added to the list, but only 6,000 liver transplants are performed. Today we’re going to talk about living donor liver transplantation and break it down for you, what living donor transplantation means, what the procedure is like, and the thousands of people who’s lives could be saved by living donor.

 

 

[00:02:30]

We also like to be able to answer some of your questions later, so please feel free to leave those in the comment section on the post. Dr. Humar, let’s start with the basics. What is the function of the liver and why might someone need a liver transplant?

 

Dr. Humar: The liver is one of our most important organs. Think of it as our chemical factory so to speak. It actually has about 500 different functions. If you lose even one of those functions, it can have a dramatic impact on life itself and all of your other organs.

 

[00:03:00] The many reasons why someone might need a liver transplant, essentially anything that causes the liver to fail fan be helped and can be cured with a successful liver transplant. It doesn’t matter really what your age is. We have babies that are affected by liver failure. We have elderly that are affected by liver failures, but once the liver fails, regardless of the cause, the liver transplant is really the only way to salvage the situation.

 

[00:03:30] The most common reasons that we see in this country why someone’s liver fails and they need a transplant would be things like Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, fatty liver disease, liver cancer. All of those things can be salvaged with a transplant.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Where does living donation come into play?

 

Dr. Humar:

 

 

[00:04:00]

Once someone needs a liver transplant, there are really two ways that a transplant can happen. One is what we call a deceased donor transplant. That’s where an individual passes away and they’ve decided to be an organ donor. We take the liver and transplant that individual from it. That really is the way liver transplantation started. It still represents the most common way that liver transplant is performed in this country. While it’s a very good modality, the problem as you pointed out earlier, there are just not enough donors to meet the need.

 

 

 

[00:04:30]

The harsh reality of liver transplant today in this country is that if you’re waiting for a liver transplant, there’s about a 25percent chance that you will never get that transplant, that you will succumb from your liver disease before your name comes to the top of the list. For those patients, a live donor transplant represents certainly a great option. Now what a live donor transplant, people are very familiar with live donor transplants, though usually with a kidney. Everyone knows we have two kidneys and your donor can give you one of their two kidneys and still be healthy and you have a successful transplant.

 

[00:05:00] It’s possible also to do that with the liver. Even though we only have one liver, it’s possible to divide it into different sections. We can remove just part of a healthy individuals liver and transplant that.

 

Tunch Ilkin: That is crazy.

 

Dr. Humar: The reason why you can do that is the liver is one of the very few organs that we have that actually regenerates. Once we do that and transplant it, it’ll grow back to full size both in the person who donates the liver as well as the person who receives the liver.

 

[00:05:30]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

Who’s eligible for this?

 

Dr. Humar:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:06:00]

The main thing that we want to be sure of is that the donor is healthy. It is a big operation for the donor also. We don’t want to obviously put them at undue risk. We screen the donors very carefully to make sure that they’re healthy. The main criteria that we use is certain age criteria. They have to be obviously adults. We want them to understand what they’re doing. We set an upper age limit because obviously as we get older, our health is not as good and the liver doesn’t regenerate as well. Between the ages of 18-55 in good health. Really the main part of it is that they understand what the operation involves and that they’re doing this on a voluntary altruistic basis that they want to help someone, either their family member or loved one or an acquaintance.

 

Tunch Ilkin:

[00:06:30]

I can see how especially a parent or a husband or a wife would want to be part of something like this. What are the benefits of a recipient of a living liver donor as apposed to receiving a diseased liver donor?

 

Dr. Humar:

 

 

 

[00:07:00]

Obviously if you’re in that 25percent that never got to the top of the list, having a live donor available is a tremendous advantage. It’s life saving essentially. If you get a transplant from a living donor, it’s a life saving operation. The advantage is obvious there, but even beyond that, the way that liver transplant occurs in this country and the way that organs are allocated is that you sit on a waiting list and you wait for a transplant. The way priority is given on the waiting list is that the sickest person gets the next organ which is good. If you’re sick, you have the greatest need and you want to get the next transplant.

 

 

 

[00:07:30]

The problem with that is it’s almost a catch 22 is that you have to get very sick to get the transplant. When you’re very sick, it’s a lot harder to recover from a big operation like a liver transplant. It’s much better if we could do the operation when the patient is in a healthier state and we have that ability to do it with a live donor. You can get the transplant when you need it, but before you’re health has deteriorated to the point where you’re critically ill and will have a very lengthy recovery.

 

 

 

[00:08:00]

We find that patients who get living donor transplants recover quicker from their operation, they’re able to get back to doing normal day to day activity on a quicker basis. They’re back to work, they’re back to their families, they’re back home on a shorter time basis and that’s important.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Does a new liver last longer than a diseased liver? What is the difference in time?

 

Dr. Humar:

 

 

[00:08:30]

If you look at the national data and even our own center data, patients who get a liver from a living donor actually do better both in the short term as well as in the long term. Their survival is actually better with a living donor, but a large part of that is just because of the reason that I outlined that they’re healthier going into the operation and so their ability to tolerate that surgery, recover from it and get back to meaningful life is much better. Therefore their outcomes are much better then.

 

Tunch Ilkin: If I wanted to be a donor, I’m too old I know that, what risks do donors need to be aware of? What do they need to consider before going into surgery to be prepared?

 

[00:09:00]

Dr. Humar:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:09:30]

 

This is obviously a big step that donors have to take. We as the medical team want to be absolutely sure that they go into it with all the facts. A very important part of this entire process is the donor evaluation process. That’s where we put the donor through a very stringent evaluation. We do multiple medical tests and scans to make sure they are in the healthiest possible state that they can be to donate and that the risk is minimized as much as possible. That’s the key. We want to minimize the risk to the donor as much as possible.

 

We have criteria that they have to be. Obviously they have to be healthy. That’s really the main part. We have certain age criteria, but the main thing is that they have to be healthy. They can’t have underlying liver disease. They shouldn’t have underlying other major medical problems like heart disease, etc. After that, if they’re interested, we put them through the battery of tests and make sure that not only is their liver good enough, but that the rest of their body is good enough to tolerate an operation of that magnitude.

 

[00:10:00]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

The donor’s like the ultimate teammate. Cam, you’ve been playing football your whole life and you’re part of a great tradition, a great football team. I hear Mike Tomlin always saying that the standard is the standard. Talk about how important it is to have a teammate that can step up and step in when a guy’s either struggling or a guy’s injured like you had a guy step in for you. Talk a little bit about that.

 

[00:10:30]

Cam Hayward:

 

My situation was kind of perfect for it because I got injured and I … Why do I keep stuttering. I could no longer play.

 

Tunch Ilkin: You don’t have to donate a liver at the end of this.

 

Cam Hayward: I’m a little nervous.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Maybe Doc will talk you into it.

 

Dr. Humar: If you’re willing-

 

Tunch Ilkin: I bet he’s got a big liver, Doc.

 

Dr. Humar: Probably could benefit five people.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Take a little piece here, a little piece there. Go ahead.

 

[00:11:00]

Cam Hayward:

 

You have to have guys who are willing to step up and step in. In any sport or anything, there’s going to be times where guys are going to go down and someone needs to step up. It’s very fortunate. It doesn’t always work out that nice. You could attest to that because some of these injuries come around and can decimate your whole team for the whole year. We had plenty of guys to step up in different ways and just keep plugging along.

 

[00:11:30]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

We were talking about team work at UPMC, the teamwork on the Steelers. One of the areas in what you do, the team work is so important on the defense is everybody doing their job and staying disciplined. Talk a little bit about that.

 

Cam Hayward:

 

[00:12:00]

It’s like the body. Everybody has a particular job and everybody has to perform it. If you don’t, the whole thing just shuts down. Whether it’s my position where I have to stop the run or keep blockers off or get after in the pass rush, I’m depending on a quarterback to cover or I’m depending on the line backer to cover the screen or watch where little things under. You have to have everybody doing their job. That’s why you love football because it’s a team sport. One guy’s not going to do it. It takes a team effort.

 

Tunch Ilkin:

[00:12:30]

You play for one of the most, if not the most storied professional sport franchises in history. You’ve got the most playoff wins of any team in NFL history. You’ve got those six Lombardi’s upstairs. You walk in, you see those everyday when you walk to your meeting. What’s it like playing for the black and gold?

 

Cam Hayward:

 

 

[00:13:00]

There’s an added pressure with it because you know you have to live up to that standard, but you enjoy that because it challenges you day in and day out to reach those goals. I wouldn’t want to play for anybody else. You can attest to that as well. There’s history comes along with it. There’s a pride in you want to succeed at this level. You want to do whatever you can to represent this city well.

 

Tunch Ilkin: I remember the first time I took the field as a Pittsburgh Steelers. I was just going, “Look, there’s Joe Green. There’s Jack … There’s Frank.” I’m on the field with these guys! It’s almost like you’ve got to pinch yourself.

 

Cam Hayward:

[00:13:30]

Yeah, I took the field with one of the best defenses ever. You look at guys like Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark. All these guys had already won Superbowl. I’m like, “Wow, I’m stepping into greatness right now.”

 

Tunch Ilkin: There are great expectations. Doctor, your team is faced with high expectations as well. The pressure has sometimes got to be … Can you tell us why UPMC is the place to go for living donor liver transplant?

 

[00:14:00]

Dr. Humar:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:14:30]

 

There are many reasons, but this is one of the most experienced programs in the country. In fact, if you look at the history of liver transplantation, the history of liver transplantation began in Pittsburgh. Many, many years ago when Dr. Starzl, Tom Starzl who’s regarded as really the grandfather of transplantation came to Pittsburgh and started. Before that, liver transplantation was very much in its infancy. He took it, developed it, and really made it into the life saving therapy that it is. At one point in time when the program was at its peak, people were flying in from all around the world because there were very few options available to them at that time.

 

 

 

 

[00:15:00]

That rich experience that you were talking about is here at UPMC, the university of Pittsburgh. That’s what we bring to the table when we’re looking at helping these patients. The live donor liver transplant has been active for the better part of 10-12 years here. I’ve been here for the last eight years and we’ve been doing it. We’re one of the largest programs in the country that offer live liver transplants. It’s not something that’s available at all programs because you need a fair amount of expertise and really the depth of team that you were talking about to be able to make complicated procedures like this available to patients. We’re fortunate to have that here thanks in large part to the work that was started by Dr. Starzl.

 

[00:15:30]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

That is so cool. So you’ve kind of answered this question, but I’m going to ask it a little more specifically. I don’t have to be family to be a donor.

 

Dr. Humar: No.

 

Tunch Ilkin: How much of my liver do I got to give up? How long is it going to take me to get back into the swing of things?

 

Dr. Humar:

 

 

[00:16:00]

The first point is very important. It doesn’t have to be a family member. Though often it is because we have that tie, but we have many, many donors who have just as you talked about stepping up for your teammate, it’s exactly that. When your fellow man is down and you want to help them, stepping up to be a donor is exactly what these individuals want to do. We’ve had church members, friends, co-workers, students, teachers helping others.

 

Tunch Ilkin: That’s so cool.

 

Dr. Humar:

 

 

[00:16:30]

Sometimes even total strangers that come up and say, “Look, I know that there’s this individual on your list that really needs a liver. I’d like to give part of my liver. I’m healthy and I could be a donor.” We’ve had several individuals like that. Total strangers, don’t know the individual and have come and said, “I want to help someone.” That really is … It really reaffirms to you the goodness that’s there when you see things like that.

 

Tunch Ilkin: It must just melt your heart to see that.

 

Dr. Humar: Every story is uniquely different between a donor and recipient. No two stories are the same. Everyone is gratifying beyond belief. It really to me is one of the … There can’t be a more gratifying job than this because of the things that we get to witness on a daily basis.

 

[00:17:00]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

What a blessing. So someone might be watching this right now that’s going, “Man, that might be me.” What should they do? If I’m watching at home and I’m interested in being a living donor, what do I do?

 

Dr. Humar:

 

[00:17:30]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:18:00]

All they have to do is contact us and their contact numbers as well as a website that they can go to, fill in some questions. That’ll tell us that they’re interested and we will contact them back and ask them very basic questions to see whether they would at least qualify. If they do, we talk to them in detail about the procedure, what it involves, some of the questions you’ve asked, how much of the liver are we going to take? What’s the recovery going to be like? How long are they going to be off? Then if they’re interested in pursuing it further, we bring them in for that full evaluation that we talked about which is really the best medical exam that they’re ever going to get. We screen them from top to bottom to make sure that they’re very medically fit, that we’re not going to put them at any undue risk.

 

Tunch Ilkin: So people who do this are a big part of saving a life. That’s got to be so special when you see someone who’s willing to do that. As you look for people, what’s the challenge? How do you challenge them?

 

Dr. Humar:

 

[00:18:30]

It’s remarkable about these donors, I obviously know a lot of donors that I’ve dealt with over the years. Many of them I would consider actually my friends more than my patients at this point. One thing that’s very common to them, why they say they want to come forward and help someone, many of them, most of them I find actually don’t want recognition for it. They just want to help someone. They don’t want you to make a big fuss over them. They don’t want you to be spotlighting them. They just want to do their job, help the individual, and then move on with it. It really is very heartwarming to see.

 

[00:19:00]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

I can only imagine. Cam, you are very familiar with helping people. One of the things that I admire about you has nothing to do with football. It’s the fact that from day one you came here and you immersed yourself in the community, reaching out to others. You started the Heyward House in 2015. Tell us a little bit about the Heyward House foundation.

 

Cam Hayward:

[00:19:30]

 

 

 

 

[00:20:00]

Being around here, you get to see a lot of great community service. Seeing guys like Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel, Aaron Smith, those guys were all big part of this community. I thought what are some ways I can give back? After watching them for so long, I was like, “There’s not one thing that sticks to mind, but I love to help kids. I love to get involved with asthma and brain tumors.” Those are some things that are dear to my heart. Working with my foundation now, we get to target those. Heyward House, my house, my mom always used to say, “Come over to the Heyward House. We’re going to take care of you.”

 

Tunch Ilkin: That’s neat. That’s pretty cool.

 

Cam Hayward:

 

 

[00:20:30]

Basically that’s what we’re doing now. We get to focus on inner city kids who don’t have the right backpacks for school, or don’t even get lunch for school, or asthma, kids that don’t even get birthday presents or Christmas presents, little things like that that might go unnoticed that just mean so much to these kids. They don’t have those memories. It keeps growing. It’s a lot of fun to be apart of.

 

Tunch Ilkin:

 

[00:20:52]

[00:21:00]

You made an interesting statement. You said when you got here Brett Keisel was doing this and Troy was doing that. I’ve been here, in my 38th year now. I go all the way back and I think of guys like Franco, Rob , LC, the old timers. It started with the Rooney Family, with the chief. The chief was always … If there was someone in need or an organization in need, or a charity in need, the chief was there. Then down to the ambassador DMR was the same way. Art’s the same way.

 

Talk about the tradition. It’s been handed down from generation to generation. That’s part of the Steelers legacy.

 

Cam Hayward:

[00:21:30]

Yeah. I was just at Brett Keisel’s event and you see Coach Tomlin there in the back. We’re always there for each other. We’ve always continued to just care because this city is like no other. You could be a doctor, you could be an athlete, you could be a host. We all just care about the city. It’s a blue collar city where we just want to give back.

 

Tunch Ilkin:

[00:22:00]

Speaking of making an impact and making a difference, Dr. Humar, what you’ve been sharing just blows my mind. It is so cool. What would keep someone from being a donor?

 

Dr. Humar: As I said, the main thing we’re looking for is to make sure that they’re healthy. If we find that there’s anything in the evaluation that would put them at higher risk than normal, then we would ask them not to be donors. We would not approve them for donation. That generally is the most common thing we see during the evaluation process.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Any diet or exercise or tips to get ready for it?

 

[00:22:30]

Dr. Humar:

 

Obviously it’s a big operation. As with any operation, you want to be in good shape for it. We advise them to eat healthy, exercise on a regular basis, avoid the things that we know can harm the liver, and do that for a time period before the surgery as well as for a time period afterwards and hopefully forever afterwards to keep their help in the best possible shape.

 

Tunch Ilkin:

[00:23:00]

Good coaching tips there. We know this, Cam, you got to be healthy to be a donor and injuries are sometimes bad lunch, but sometimes you can prevent them too. I know you take tremendous care of your body. You are a relentless worker. Talk about specifically some of the things you do through the course of the season to stay at your peak and healthy?

 

Cam Hayward: Besides annoy my wife?

 

Tunch Ilkin: Being a good husband, dad, that stuff is good.

 

Cam Hayward: It is good, but I think the things you have to do to take care of your body, you got to get sleep. You can’t be out partying.

 

[00:23:30]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

LC Green would used to say, “Stay off the streets, Rook.” Stay off the streets. That was a big call in our day.

 

Cam Hayward: He was a [inaudible 00:23:37]. He knew what he was talking about. There are so many sleep studies now. Also eating three meals, having your proteins, your vegetables, your fruits. We do a lot of stretching and a lot of preventative strength training because I think that just helps you stay clear and stay up to date.

 

[00:24:00]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

With the injury that you sustained this year, do you have to take a different approach? How are you going to approach this off season training and conditioning?

 

Cam Hayward: I picture it this way. During the season I got hurt. I was in a little bit of vacation mode then. Now I get to jump back on and get back to my training. I’ve just been looking forward to this off season. It was kind of tough watching us lose like that and not being on the field. I’m just raring to get back and get back to helping these guys win.

 

[00:24:30]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

Talk about the frustration of being injured. You’re out there. I know you’re an encourager and you’re giving those guys, you’re talking to the guys who play D-line, you’re giving them coaching tips, but talk about what the frustration of watching.

 

Cam Hayward:

 

[00:25:00]

I feel like I retired and I was forced to retire and they wouldn’t let me go back out. It’s tough. I’ve never had an injury before. My wife had to do a lot of counseling for me.

 

Tunch Ilkin: That’s beautiful.

 

Cam Hayward: We got through it. I think we’re just all excited about this next year.

 

Tunch Ilkin:

 

 

 

[00:25:30]

We’re going to shift gears. Since we’ve heard a little bit from both Dr. Humar and Cam, we’d like to introduce a couple of special guests now. At this time we’d like to bring out two very special people. Rich and Regan who are both Steelers fans, but more importantly are living donor and patient who chose UPMC for their life changing transplant. Their friendship has been forever changed. Rich was in need of a liver. His pastor Regan, knowing it, knowing that it would save his life, donated a portion of her liver to him and we are extremely honored to have you guys here. Thank you so much for joining us, Rich and Regan.

 

Regan: Thank you.

 

Rich: Glad to be here.

 

Cam Hayward: That’s very exciting.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Now you’re the interviewer.

 

Cam Hayward: I know you’re going to grade me over this.

 

Tunch Ilkin: No, no. I think you’re doing a great job already.

 

Cam Hayward: Well first of all, how are you guys doing today?

 

Regan: Good.

 

Rich: Good.

 

[00:26:00]

Regan:

 

Very well. Thank you.

 

Cam Hayward: We’re very lucky to have you guys here. We were just wondering if you could share your story and the whole process going through the living donor donation?

 

Rich:

 

 

[00:26:30]

It was … I was pretty sick there for a good while. I was on the list waiting for the liver. Here Reagan’s our minister at church. We’ve known her for many years. One day she called and said, “Can I stop down and talk to you guys?” I said fine. She came in and she said that she was going to donate part of her liver for me.

 

Cam Hayward: Wow.

 

Rich: As she knows and different ones around me know that I’m never lost too much for words, but then I was. I’m just going … Couldn’t say anything. I started tearing up, my wife did, we had a group hug. From there on, we’ve started moving on with it.

 

Tunch Ilkin: So Regan, you’re a pastor. That was a very Christ like sacrifice

 

Regan: Thank you, I appreciate that.

 

Tunch Ilkin: It was. Was it the Lord?

 

Regan:

 

 

[00:00:30]

A little bit of the Lord and a little bit of the travels back and forth to the hospital with visitations with Rich … Home visits and things like that … Seeing progressively get worse and thought, “At least I’ll try. If I’m not then okay, but if I am let’s get this going if I am.” Found out about two weeks after the testing that I was a match. Luckily we had a board meeting that night when I told him I was a match. I was able to start talking to the board about needing a few weeks off for recovery. We had to pick a day in November, so we did.

 

Cam: Wow.

 

Rich: You can’t even say thank you. Thank you, but thank you does not cover it.

 

[00:01:00]

Cam:

 

Speaking on you, Rich … What was it like the moment you found out that Regan was going to donate her liver, or a part of it?

 

Rich:

 

 

[00:01:30]

Totally thrilled … Not coming through. It was really satisfying to know I’m going to have a second chance at life. Without her, I’d probably … You know how you wait. That was a big thing, said, “Am I going to be able to make it long enough to get a donor?” When she stepped up life just started feeling a whole lot better.

 

Cam: For Regan, how does it feel knowing you’ve helped a friend in need and saved Rich’s life?

 

Regan:

 

 

[00:02:00]

It’s an honor to actually be able to sit in this seat to be able to help someone continue to be a grandfather, a husband, and a father. I was quite honored and moved that I was able to do it. When I think about it and I needed a liver, Rich probably would have been the first one in line to try to see if he was a match for myself.

 

Rich: Certainly.

 

Regan: I think that’s the kind of relationship that Rich, and hopefully all my congregation, I have. Having that moment of, “Let’s try.”

 

Rich: She’s a special lady. Special, fantastic.

 

Cam: We all commend you.

 

Regan: Thank you.

 

[00:02:30]

Cam:

 

What would you say to someone thinking about donating or becoming a donor?

 

Rich: Please do.

 

Regan:

 

 

 

[00:03:00]

We’ve actually spoke to a few people who were in need of liver transplants. The families wanted to talk with me and those who were going to be recipients needed to speak with Rich. We’ve actually gone with people from the community and have spoken to them about it. We know of two people who have gone through liver transplants when we spoke with them. They are doing well themselves and things like that. I’m hoping from sharing our story that our story will inspire others as well.

 

Cam: I know you were talking about that day that you found out. What went through your mind when you found out that you were a match?

 

Regan:

[00:03:30]

First thing I thought was like, “Wow.” I was like, “How am I going to do this?” The thought process of it all and then of course I had to tell my mom and dad. Being parents, very concerned of this, but very respectful that this was what I was going to do. Calling Rich saying, “I’m coming for a visit today.” I think it was shock at first and then a nice peace going, “This was how it was supposed to be. This is my walk in life.”

 

Rich: It was just like calm to the storm once we found out.

 

Regan: Everyone had a big sigh of relief.

 

[00:04:00]

Cam:

 

That’s kind of funny because we’re just reading off this, but … You touched on a little bit, but what did other people say to you when you told them you were doing this? Were they pretty supportive?

 

Regan:

 

[00:04:30]

Very supportive, some of them said, “Are you crazy?” I had both responses, mainly positive responses. There was always the concern of my own health, “Are you sure you’re going to be able to do this? Your own health.” I said, “The tests show I’m healthy so here we go.” From the point I found out I was a donor to the point we had surgery was less than a month.

 

Rich: It was quickly.

 

Tunch Ilkin: That was good.

 

Cam: That was really fast.

 

Regan: It was like I got tested at the end of September, found out mid October, and the 10th of November is when we had our surgery.

 

Rich: Everything went quickly …

 

[00:05:00]

Regan:

 

Smoothly. Without the staff and the coordinators … Doctor [Humar 00:05:02] … Everybody made the transition and the decisions very easy for us.

 

Cam: We want to commend you for what you did. We’re very appreciative of both you guys being here today. Here’s a little something of gratitude from us. We know it can’t truly express how we feel, but we figured you guys could have a jersey.

 

Regan: Thank you very much.

 

[00:05:30]

Rich:

 

Thank you very much, appreciate that.

 

Cam: Thank you. We appreciate all that you guys do.

 

Regan: Thank you and thank you for having us.

 

Rich: Thank you.

 

Tunch Ilkin: God bless you both.

 

Rich: Thank you very much.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Rich, you look great.

 

Rich: I feel fantastic.

 

Tunch Ilkin: You look great.

 

Rich: Feel really good.

 

Tunch Ilkin: You look great. We’re going to shift gears and we have some fan questions for you. Here’s the first one, Cam: Early in the season there were some struggles, what would you say was the turning point that put the team in the direction of the success that you guys had at the end?

 

Cam:

 

 

 

[00:06:30]

I think some of it’s just luck. Then I think you want to be that hot team at the right time. You don’t want to peak too early, but I don’t think you can try to measure that out or try to play into that. We got some guys who are healthy. I think our offensive line really started to click late. I think we started settled in on the run game. A best offense for a defense is a run game. I thought we had a good recipe for most of the year.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Talk about how the defense got better.

 

Cam: I think night and day. You look at the sacks were improving. You saw Father Time and [D-Beau 00:06:44], James Harrison.

 

Tunch Ilkin: He’s amazing.

 

Cam: He is.

 

Tunch Ilkin: He is amazing.

 

Cam: He’s beating Father Time up right now.

 

[00:07:00]

Speaker 2:

 

I retired at 36 after 14 years and my body felt like a giant abscessed tooth. I think of him … 39? I’m like, “Oh …”

 

Cam: He enjoys it.

 

Tunch Ilkin: I know.

 

Cam: He wants to feel like that.

 

Tunch Ilkin: He’s a genetic mutation. What’s it mean to play for Steeler Nation? Probably the most passionate football fans anywhere?

 

Cam:

[00:07:30]

I think we have the best fans in the world. I grew up being a Steelers fan. My grandparents are Steelers fans. They were watching the draft, not just because I was getting drafted but, “Who are the Steelers going to pick?” When you get chosen by the Steelers, you’re excited because you know what type of fan base you’re getting. A rowdy, honest, and excited group.

 

Tunch Ilkin: What was that like for you when you got the call from the Steelers? Not knowing where you could go, but then all of a sudden it was the Steelers?

 

[00:08:00]

Cam:

 

Back in my mind I’m thinking, “Please let the Steelers draft me.” I didn’t know where I was going to get drafted, when, but I like to think my dad had a hand in it. He was talking to God and they were working on the plan together.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Of course Cam’s father was Ironhead Heyward, a great fullback for the Saints and before that University of Pittsburgh. Is there a game or a moment that you look at and say that was probably the most favorite or joyous moment since you’ve been here?

 

Cam: I always enjoy football so it’s hard to pick just one moment.

 

Tunch Ilkin: I can tell you enjoy football.

 

Cam:

 

[00:09:00]

I do. Joyous, just one moment? For me or for the team because I think for the team, you look at that Baltimore game and you see AB extend that ball out like that? I still get goosebumps from that because there was so much on the line for that game. Going down to the wire … You practice those moments and it never works out that way. It just worked out perfectly.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Do you have a moment like a backyard dreaming moment where … Whether you sack somebody or you make the play of the game, or you strip the ball … Anything like that that jumps out at you?

 

Cam:

[00:09:30]

Not in the NFL. I think in college I had one moment where we were playing Miami and it was a 13 play drive. They’re driving, and then I drop and I picked it off. I started running. I ran 80 yards but I forgot that I had already had that 13 play drive, so I ran out of gas. I got caught up in … It was hard to get me off the field after that.

 

Tunch Ilkin: I bet you got the oxygen. What’s a typical game week look like for you?

 

[00:10:00]

Cam:

 

 

 

[00:10:30]

 

Game week? It basically starts that night after the previous game … Trying to recover. The next day, Monday, we come in; Get a lift, run, meetings, you’re already looking at your next opponent. Tuesday is your so-called day off, but you’ll be in here working out, watching film. Wednesday is the first practice. Mostly it’s [petted 00:10:25], but you’ll have meetings in the morning. You got to get a lift before then. Meetings all the way up until about 2:00 then practice. Do the same thing over throughout the week and you’re gearing up for Sunday.

 

Tunch Ilkin: You mean you don’t just show up on Sunday and play?

 

Cam: No. Not at all.

 

Tunch Ilkin: It’s funny how people go …

 

Cam: That’s half of the fun right there.

 

Tunch Ilkin: You talked a lot about the impact of veterans and how veterans take the younger guys under their wing. Talk about what that’s like and how you learned, and how now in turn you teach, you mentor?

 

[00:11:00]

Cam:

 

 

 

[00:11:30]

 

You can ask anybody I’m tough on my rookies, but it’s for good reason. Guys were tough on me, they showed me the way. They made me earn that way. I think you have to be tough on younger guys because they’re preparing for something totally different. It’s a 16 game grind. In college you play about 12 or 13 games. 16 games and then you’re gearing up for the play offs. Most of these rookies don’t have an off season so they’re going straight into the NFL games. It’s a totally different monster. You try to prepare them for the moments and make them work hard in practice. Once again, in the game, you want them to feel like it’s easy. It’s just playing football.

 

Tunch Ilkin: What’s your favorite road team to play for … play at, rather?

 

Cam: Play for?

 

[00:12:00]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

Not for, no. Let me rephrase that. What’s your favorite place on the road to play?

 

Cam: There are some fun places. Going up to Cleveland and seeing all those fans a little sad is always fun. It’s also fun playing at Baltimore. It’s always a great rivalry and you look forward to those guys.

 

Tunch Ilkin: I loved playing in Cleveland because that place reeked of history. It also reeked of urine because the plumbing was bad in the stadium. The fans hated us.

 

Cam: They do.

 

[00:12:30]

Tunch Ilkin:

 

You walk on the field, dog biscuits and batteries. You go, “They hate us here.”

 

Cam: To think my wife is from Cleveland.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Oh boy.

 

Cam: We met in college so we’ll let that one slide.

 

Tunch Ilkin: Thank you, that’s all we have time for. Rich, thank you so much for joining us. Regan, thank you. Doctor Humar, great to be with you. God bless you. Cam. Thank you for joining us for this live Facebook chat. So long until next time.