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For McCorkle, life turns around
Judy, Charlie and Dori McCorkle during a dinner celebration after Judy's return from the hospital.

Richmond Hill resident Judy McCorkle has recently experienced an amazing string of events that has literally turned her life around.

After suffering from liver failure, Judy had been on a donor list for the past year and a half. Hope was beginning to look dim, and Judy was slated this month to have surgery at Emory Hospital in Atlanta to replace a stint in her liver which had deteriorated.

In an uncanny coincidence, Judy’s luck turned around at the exact moment she was being prepped for surgery. Surgery did take place, but it wasn’t for the stint replacement. Instead, Judy got a donor and the liver replacement surgery took place.

Furthermore, the surgery was an overwhelming success and Judy started her path to recovery at an unprecedented rate that was quicker and more efficient than her doctor had ever seen before.

"We feel we’ve witnessed a miracle," said family friend Patty Casey.

County Commission Chairman and Judy’s employer at Bryan Bank and Trust Jimmy Burnsed reiterated that comment.

"We really did see a true miracle happen in Judy’s life," said Burnsed. "I think her story is truly inspirational."

Burnsed went on to brag about Judy’s positive attitude through her whole ordeal and how she has missed little work in spite of her disorder.

"My faith has kept me form not worrying at all," said Judy. "My biggest concern through all this was those I’d leave behind if the worst were to happen."

Judy spoke of how her husband Charlie and two daughters, Mandi and Dori have helped her great deal around the house as well as emotionally. She also spoke of how she had a much broader support group that includes her "extended family" of co-workers Bryan Bank and Trust and her church group.

Every single step of Judy’s recent transplant surgery has overcome odds.

According to medical standards, the surgery was supposed to take as much as 20 hours - it took three and a half. Preceding the surgery, she was supposed to be in the intensive care for as much as five days – she only required a day and a half.

She was told before the operation that she would have to deal with breathing through a respirator for several days – the respirator was removed before she awoke. She was supposed to remain hospitalized for a couple weeks – she was out in a few days.

When she came home this past Wednesday, she was greeted by seeing her name in lights as billboards at Kroger, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Publix and Richmond Hill Pharmacy heralded "Welcome Home Judy" greetings, which are still up today. In addition, Judy’s church group arranged for a welcome home celebration dinner at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s within hours of her Richmond Hill return.

"God has huge plans for Judy," said Casey. "I don’t know what they are exactly, but I know he must because of what Judy just experienced."

"Every time I look at her, I just have to smile," said Judy’s husband Charlie McCorkle.

He reflected on the morning of the transplant surgery. He said he awoke to doctors telling him about the donor but said he took the news with a bit of skeptism. In January, the McCorkles were told the same thing and checked into the same Atlanta hospital. The rug was pulled out from under them as they were sent home after being told the donor liver contained cancer cells. This time, the donor liver was a perfect match.

"It’s been a whirlwind ever since," said Charlie.

In yet another amazing set of coincidences, doctors discovered, upon removing Judy’s liver, that her liver had deteriorated to the point where cancer cells were starting to develop. Doctors told the McCorkles that it looks like it was removed just in time. She left Tuesday for Atlanta so that the hospital could run tests to make sure the cancer cells had not spread, which Judy said is unlikely because of the miniscule amount of malignant cells detected.

Beyond having to remain on medication, Judy said she feels "wonderful" and pain-free.

"I can now go back to work and live a normal life," she said. "This has been an amazing journey."

Charlie said that their insurance has not covered everything and family and friends have scheduled two fundraisers to help out with the medical expenses: a car wash later this month in the Bryan Bank and Trust parking lot and a poker run in late August. In addition, contributions are being accepted for the Judy McCorkle Transport Fund which is an open account at Bryan Bank and Trust set up to help the family.

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