Lisa McIntyre: Gift of 8 Campaign
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Liver disease doesn’t just happen to drug users and alcoholics. My name is Lisa, and while still in high school I was diagnosed with an incurable liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. Shortly after college, after living with the disease for several years and watching my health and spirit diminish daily, I was finally told that a liver transplant was my only option. Every day was a struggle to live with such a debilitating disease. I was always tired, but couldn’t sleep at night. My eyes and skin were a sickly greenish yellow colour, and I dealt with intense itching over my entire body. I had to put my life on hold. All of my energy was devoted to simply getting through each day. I was placed on the waiting list and given a pager so that when a liver became available, I would know to go for my transplant. My blood type, and the other hundreds of Ontarians waiting for a liver meant that I could have to wait several years for my life-saving transplant.
Someone I know told me that they would probably be my donor. I remember that moment so clearly, even though I was so sick. I knew everything would be alright. After a 10 hour surgery, my family was told that they were finally able to see me. I was finally able to go home after a month in the hospital. Five months after my transplant, I returned to full-time work. Today, nearly 6 years later, I have very few signs of my past health problems. I’m reminded daily of the gift of nearly 70% of my donor's liver by the scar on my abdomen. I’m thankful for the work of my amazing medical team and for my donor's decision to donate to me. In February 2011, I married the man who stood by me during my illness. Without the miracle of organ donation, I would never have seen my wedding day. Living organ donation is the reason I am here today!