Originally Printed in the Kenton Times on Nov 5, 2022.
By Dan Robinson, Special to the Kenton Times
For most of his life, Keith Everhart has fought health problems, but the inconveniences of the attack on his immune system has evolved into a life-threatening disease.
The Hardin County sheriff informed his staff Friday he will be spending fewer hours in his office and working mostly from home as he waits for a “magic phone call” which will tell him a liver donor has been located.
“If I don’t get a liver, I’m going to die. It is a life and death situation,” Everhart said.
He was diagnosed at the age of 13 with ulcerative colitis and as a result, had his colon removed.
“I have lived without a colon since I was 18,” Everhart said.
The operation seemed to keep the symptoms at bay for another 12 years, but at the age of 30, the sheriff was told he had primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare disorder which affects the liver. Since his diagnosis, Everhart has gone twice annually to get his bile ducts “rotor-rootered” at a medical facility in Indianapolis.
About six weeks ago, the procedure didn’t help.
“My liver is shot. It can’t take any more,” Everhart said.
His skin has taken on a yellow color and he is exhausted easily. There is no pain, he said, but he is in a constant state of exhaustion and generally feels bad.
Earlier this week, he went again to the Indiana center and they evaluated his situation. As a result, Everhart was placed on a list of people also needing liver transplants. He is about at the middle of the list, he said.
“My doctor has always told me there would come a time when I would need a transplant,” Everhart said. “I just thought I would be a lot older when that time came.”
There is no knowing when a deceased donor which is a good medical match to Everhart will be available. The “magic phone call” may come at any time and he must arrive in the facility within three hours for the transplant procedure.
Hardin County is just on the eastern edge of the acceptable distance from the hospital.
There is also a second option which would take away the waiting for a donor. A donor could give him half of their liver, explained his finance Kim Reisinger, who is a nurse at Hardin Memorial Hospital. The donated liver rejuvenates to a normal, functioning liver in about a month for both the receiver and donor, she explained.
Members of his family are offering to be screened as donors for Everhart’s transplant operation.
The past few weeks have been a roller-coaster of emotions, Everhart said, but Reisinger’s support has kept his spirits high.
“She is awesome. I would be lost without her,” he said of Reisinger.
The sheriff has also been supported by his staff. They have known there were issues, but Friday he sent them each an explanation of his situation.
“The place really runs itself,” said Everhart. “Everyone here is so good, so dedicated to what they do. This place runs like a top with me or without me.”
After he goes through the transplant, doctors said it might be three months before he is back to work. During his absence, Chief Deputy Dennis Burns will be in charge of the office, said Everhart.
“I have a phenomenal chief deputy and staff,” said the sheriff.
He wanted not only his fellow workers to be aware of his condition, but he also hopes to share the situation with the public through this report. He has cut back on public appearances in recent weeks because of his exhaustion, Everhart said.
“The public is my employer and they have a right to know why I am not at work,” he said. “They hired me to do a job and they should know why I am not doing it.”
Everhart remains optimistic about his future.
“This is just a bump in the road. I will come back better than ever,” he predicted. “I believe it will happen when God wants it to happen. I believe he has a plan.”