Chief Ambrose gets new liver

'Feel 100 percent better. Have a long way to go.'

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Oak Park Police Chief Tony Ambrose is five weeks out from the transplant surgery that gave him a new liver, and pretty much just in time.

Ambrose went on leave from the police department in late April after being diagnosed with nonalcoholic steatohepatitus, more commonly known as NASH. By the end of May he was hospitalized with his condition rapidly worsening.

"They told me upfront that I didn't know how sick I was," said Ambrose.

He was moved to the top of the transplant list after doctors told him "he couldn't wait." A compatible liver was located, and surgery took place late on June 1 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

"Knock on wood, so far it is a success," Ambrose said July 6 in a phone interview.

He said doctors have told him the first two months after surgery are critical as they watch for infection or signs of the organ being rejected. A lesser concern continues for six months to a year, he said.

When word initially spread that Ambrose needed help, more than 20 people came forward in the first week to offer a portion of their liver for transplant. Ambrose said doctors were "amazed" at that level of response. The slow process of evaluating those potential donors was derailed when Ambrose's condition turned much worse.

"I feel 100 percent better. But I still have a long way to go," said Ambrose.

After surgery, he was sent to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab rehab center in Chicago. He was released to go home on June 26. Meanwhile, he continues outpatient rehab multiple days each week.

"Right now, I am on specific doctor's orders to focus on rehab and to get my strength back," Ambrose said. "I have to be honest, I have a long way to go."

Ambrose expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support from village government staff, the police department, his family and the wider community.

"It has been phenomenal," he said. "I never expected it."

Ambrose talked about missing the Fourth of July parade and the fireworks show for the first time in 20 years. He also said that he not used a sick day in 25 years.

Contact:
Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

Reader Comments

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Melissa Mallin  

Posted: July 13th, 2018 8:04 PM

I used to be liver transplant coordinator in the OR at Rush.... When they took forever and results uncertain. It's a miraculous surgery and never got old to us. Best wishes and blessings upon Mr. Ambrose and his donor

Albert G Roberts  

Posted: July 11th, 2018 9:06 PM

Best wishes for a speedy recovery Chief! You are an exceptional leader and an extraordinary man; and the world is a better place because of you.

Katina Smith  

Posted: July 8th, 2018 1:24 PM

Congratulations Chief!! Glad to hear you are on the mend!!!

Jim Major from Oak Park   

Posted: July 7th, 2018 1:45 PM

Keep up the good fight Tony. Wishing you all the best!

Deborah Preiser from River Forest  

Posted: July 7th, 2018 10:59 AM

What good news, Chief! I hope your recovery continues to go well. 25 years without a sick day -- not many people can match your fine record. I myself have 1200 hours of untaken sick time here at the OP Library. I was one of many people who crowded around LaDon Reynolds before the July 4 parade to ask about you. I hope you feel the love coming your way!

Amanda Poppenk Massie from Oak park  

Posted: July 7th, 2018 7:02 AM

Glad ur recovering so well. PS the fireworks were great.

Daniel Kill from La Grange Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2018 8:14 PM

Chief Ambrose...Wishing you a speedy recovery. Dan

Mary Darnall from Oak Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2018 5:13 PM

Congratulations, Chief Ambrose! My brother had a liver transplant 28 years ago! Yes, it was very hard at the beginning, but he has always been exacting in his medication regime and careful to avoid being around people who are ill. His vigilance has worked! I wish you the same success!

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