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31. #50YearsofTransplant: Sam D.

Sam’s daughter flew halfway around the world to donate 60% of her liver to save her brother’s life. Sam shares the story of how liver disease affected her family and why she continues to advocate for organ donation.
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What led to your son needing a liver transplant?

"Our son, in Alberta, was diagnosed with PSC (primary sclerosing cholangitis), and although he was told it would not present fully for at least 10 years, he began to suffer from the symptoms after only three years.  He was in all other respects very healthy.  His MELD (model for end-stage liver disease) scores never were high enough to put him at the top of the transplant list, and it was felt that his chances of having cancer meant he would not be put on the list anyway.  So he was never going to receive a liver from a deceased donor. Throughout those harrowing three years he was hospitalized numerous times and only very narrowly survived one horrendous episode."

Tell us about how your daughter became the family hero.

"Our daughter, mother of two little ones, who lived in Singapore at the time, had herself tested there at her own expense to see if she was a match for her brother. When she got the call from Edmonton confirming she could donate, she flew over to save his life.  She was determined to give. She is our family hero. Although she had less than two weeks of recovery time, as she had to return to work immediately, she never received any post-op care.  However, she has recovered well and continues in good health.  Without her bravery and generosity, her brother would not be alive today."

How is your son doing post-transplant?

"Our son also recovered well.  In fact, a year after his transplant he ran the Victoria half-marathon, and ran in other marathons in Alberta to support the Liver Foundation there. Sadly, however, his PSC has reared its ugly head once again.  We live in hope."

What misconceptions do you believe people have in regard to living organ donation?

"My public speaking efforts over the five years following my son's transplant addressed most of these misconceptions including who can register for organ donation, age limits and the old stickers on BC drivers' licenses.   I am also aware of certain misunderstandings about liver transplantation, such as the belief that only alcoholism causes liver disease."

What is your perspective on BC's milestone of 50 years of donation and transplant?

"I firmly support BC Transplant and its spectacular success in saving so many lives.  Organ donation is a miraculous life saver, as I can well attest.  During my presentations on organ donor registration, I was privileged to have heard many stories from recipients and from the families of deceased donors who expressed great joy at having the gifts of their loved ones live on to benefit others."

50in50; BC Transplant
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