The Most Shocking News Imaginable

Angela Fraley thought she had mono but when she went for further testing she heard news that would lead her to IU Health University Hospital.

It’s been 13 years since Angela Fraley’s transplant surgery. She still can’t believe the time that has passed. More than anything, she can’t believe she’s reached a point where she can say she’s in good health.

She was 28 when she began feeling sick. After a visit to her local hospital she was sent home and told to rest. The diagnosis at the time was mono. But the symptoms persisted so she visited her local physician and was told the issues were related to her liver.  A biopsy followed and three days later she learned she had primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a chronic, or long-term disease that slowly damages the bile ducts.

“It was the most shocking news that I could have ever imagined,” said Fraley, 51. “I went through so many ups and downs. I was taking as many as 28 pills a day and I was so weak that I couldn’t feed myself or even get up to walk more than 10 steps without a walker.”

She went through 10 years of tests and hospital stays.

“I even had a emergency doctor once tell me I was his hero because I wouldn’t give up even when my body wanted to,” said Fraley, who has been married to James Fraley, a retired pastor for 20 years. They were married in the early stages of her illness. She is the mother of Anthony Beasley, 30 and Jaron Fraley, 19, and has two grandsons.

“Jaron is my miracle son. Doctors said it would be hard to be pregnant with my health except my old liver did well during pregnancy,” said Fraley. “At first the placenta was not attaching as fast as it should and then he was born five weeks early and the cord had wrapped around his throat causing to lose oxygen,” she said. They spent a lot of time in the hospital the first year of Jaron’s life but he is healthy now.

Still Fraley’s heath did not improve.

Six years after Jaron’s birth, in April Fraley was put on the waiting list for a liver transplant. The following month on May 31, 2005 she received a new liver.

“They said when they hooked my new liver up that it started dancing on the table. I think it was really me smiling,” said Fraley. “Life is still a challenge at times but that day I went from death’s doors to a whole new life. I can’t say enough about my surgeon Dr. Jonathan Fridell. I had the best team of doctors, nurses, techs and of course family helping me get back to my life.”

These days, Fraley says she sees life a little differently. She enjoys movie nights with her four sisters, spending time with her grandsons who call her “Yaya,” attending church, relaxing by the ocean, and watching the Colts and Pacers games.

“I still have a few things on my bucket list and now they actually seem reachable,” said Fraley. “I’d like to visit Niagara Falls, go to a Colts game, ride on the transplant float in the Rose Bowl Parade and meet my donor’s family.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email