Smithfield officer back home after transplant

Published 7:57 am Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Smithfield’s hometown hero, police Lt. Kurt Beach, arrived home Wednesday after a long-sought liver transplant. Just 17 days following surgery, Beach said, “Every day is stronger, every day is better.”

Beach checked in to the Virginia Commonwealth University Hume-Lee Transplant Center on Easter Sunday and underwent surgery for a living donor transplant the next morning. (The donor has chosen to remain anonymous.) One week after the operation, Beach joined wife Kathie at the VCU Medical Center Hospitality House, an extension of the medical center for transplant patients.

Kathie Beach sent out regular updates to friends and the media from the Hospitality House about Kurt’s progress. “We are taking it one day at a time,” wrote Kathie one week after the surgery.

Beach is currently in the critical stage of recovery and taking plenty of medications and anti-rejection medicines, which he will have to take for the rest of his life. The Beaches consider that a “small inconvenience.”

“I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do as a patient,” said Beach, who is still communicating his status daily with nurses at the transplant center.

Beach contracted Hepatitis C in the 1980s while performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to an infant who would later died. He was diagnosed with the disease in the 1990s, but the statute of limitations on Virginia’s workman’s compensation law prevented him from seeking financial relief. In late March, Gov. Tim Kaine signed a bill to provide Beach $250,000 for medical expenses and the transplant.

“We haven’t heard any directions on the bill compensation…we are waiting to hear what is next on that question,” said Kathie.

Beach said he is most looking forward to being able to bring his journey full circle and pass forward the kindness and generosity that he says friends , family and community members have demonstrated to him. And although not certain about the timeframe, Beach is definitely planning to go back to work.

“I’m only 52 years old!” said Beach. “I have a lot left to give.”