Daphne liver patient back to his flock

By Jenni Vincent
Staff Writer
Posted 4/17/07

DAPHNE — Less than a month after receiving a new liver, James Odom is home.

And he’s not just sitting around the house.

One of his priorities has been returning to Christ the King Catholic Church, the same church that he has attended for …

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Daphne liver patient back to his flock


DAPHNE — Less than a month after receiving a new liver, James Odom is home.

And he’s not just sitting around the house.

One of his priorities has been returning to Christ the King Catholic Church, the same church that he has attended for 20 years and has supported him during his health ordeal.

“What else can I say, except this church is my family, too,” he said.

“This town and this church, that’s where I belong. And I thank God that I’m back here.”

Odom, 55, received a successful liver transplant on March 19 at New Orleans’ Ochsner Medical Center.

His own liver had been damaged by Crohn’s disease, doctors told him.

Thanks to an organ donation from an unidentified individual, Odom said his health has been steadily improving since the transplant, and that there has been no sign of rejection.

He returned to town Wednesday night.

His wife, Jacque, said that even his doctors were pleasantly surprised by his speedy recovery.

“As we were getting ready to leave, we ran into one of his doctors and he said he believes James is one of the fastest in terms of getting out of the hospital after this type of operation,” she said.

“We weren’t expecting to get to come back for a month or even two, but he got to leave after just three weeks.”

But with all of that now behind him, Odom was eager to get to church Thursday morning — just hours after returning home the previous evening.

Since Sunday’s services are the largest, many fellow parishioners were surprised and happy to see Odom again.

Following the service, he was greeted with comments such as “Here comes the miracle man” and “So glad you’re home.”

That enthusiastic welcome wasn’t lost on Odom, who said, “This is just like a family reunion. We are blessed to have so many care about us.

“And these same folks who have been praying about us for so long — that’s part of the reason we are here now.”

Betty Yandrasits of Daphne, a long-time friend and supporter, is no stranger to helping Odom.

She helped arrange for Ochsner medical personnel to come to Daphne last fall to do a blood drive on his behalf — an event that drew 130 donors, Yandrasits said.

Yandrasits also spearheads an e-mail prayer chain, an effort that kept Odom in local folks’ minds and prayers, she said.

“We started this about five years ago and we now have about 125 people who use this to help them pray for others,” Yandrasits said.

This electronic prayer chain was also used to provide updates about Odom’s surgery and subsequent recovery, she said.

Thanks to this effort, prayers were coming from across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as both the east and west coast, Yandrasits said.

“We even have two out of Rome, so every one of these helped make a difference, I believe,” she said. “And some of these folks add it to their own e-mail lists, so it is possible that James had people all over the world praying for him.”

Fellow parishioner Marty Felsman knows first-hand what it means to pray long distance since his job regularly takes him off the African coast.

He received several e-mail reminders from others in the Knights of Columbus to pray for Odom, Felsman said.

“Plus I got the e-mail from Betty just about every day or so, which was pretty exciting to think that this had gone international,” Felsman said.

“I thought about him all the time; That’s what keeps me close to home — thinking about people over here,” he said.

His wife, Phyllis, said she will never forget seeing the Odoms for the first time since the transplant surgery.

“When I saw James walking across the parking lot, he just had his natural stride. It just gave me goosebumps when I saw them linked arm in arm, so happy together," she said.

A dinner benefiting Odom and Adam Pintarelli (also of Christ the King) will be held Saturday, May 5, according to organizer Mary Francis.

“When this idea was mentioned at the Ladies Sodality meeting, they were all for doing something to help these families,” Francis said.

“You can see by looking at James that God is at work here,” she said.

“We just want to do whatever we can to also help make a difference.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: “New lease on Life” is a continuing series featured exclusively in the Daphne Bulletin.

In next Wednesday’s article, Daphne resident Steve Day prepares to donate a kidney to his son, John.

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