BRUCE, S.D. (KELO) — A man in a small town just northwest of Brookings is in need of a new liver after being diagnosed with end-stage liver disease.
Justin Saathoff from Bruce was only given five years to live. That was eight years ago. Now he needs a transplant.
50-year-old Saathoff owned his own excavation business for over 25 years.
“Due to my liver disease, the last few years, my health has really kind of declined. I was starting to struggle doing some of the physical work, and so I’ve been thinking about it for 3 or 4 years maybe trying to find something else,” Justin said.
Justin opened Nina’s Pizzeria at the beginning of this year, and the name comes from someone he’s very close to.
“My 7-year-old daughter. I got one daughter, Nina is her name, and she’s been my inspiration for pretty much everything,” Justin said.
He was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease in 2015 and only given five years to live.
“If I really controlled my eating and watched what I put in my body, they could maybe slow down the progression a little bit, and obviously, that’s helped. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and I’m going on eight years now,” Justin said.
He says if it weren’t for Nina, he would have given up long ago.
“She’s my drive, my motivation, the reason I breath every day,” Justin said.
Justin is now on a waiting list at at a hospital in Omaha.
“They said it could be two days, it could be two weeks, it could be two months, it just depends,” Justin said.
If Justin has the procedure and all goes well, his doctors say he could live 30-35 more years.
“Which was great. That’s more than I can ask for,” Justin said.
A benefit will be held this weekend in Estelline for Justin, which was organized by a number of people including his sister and sister-in-law.
“We love him and we’ve obviously been waiting a long time for him to be able to have his transplant, and we know that the expenses is great even with insurance, so we just wanted to do what we could for him,” Justin’s sister Darcy Peterson said.
“He’s got Nina, and she is such a bright light in his life, and so I want him to be around for many years for her,” Justin’s sister-in-law Marci Saathoff said.
“I’ve never been an emotional guy, but it just chokes me up. It’s unreal. You have no idea, the care and the support, until something like that happens to you, so it’s been phenomenal. So grateful, so blessed,” Justin said.
The benefit is Sunday at the Estelline High School gym and will include live music, a silent auction, food and more. You can see details on the Facebook event page.