Linda McNeely gave her son life, but about two years ago, Sean, then 19, returned the favour.
Diagnosed with liver disease in 1995, the Orleans resident was on medication and “extremely fatigued all the time.”
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In 2007, the time came to explore options for a transplant, and her husband, Tom, and their three sons all stepped up. Sean, a uOttawa student, was the best match.
“I went through a liver transplant,” said McNeely. “They removed my liver and gave me 50 per cent of his.”
The procedure changed her life.
“I’m here because of Sean and the amazing, miraculous world of transplants,” said McNeely at the Stroll for Liver fundraising walk for the Canadian Liver Foundation at Britannia Park Sunday.
Research and science surrounding liver disease has come a long way, said Annette Martin, regional manager for the foundation’s eastern Ontario chapter.
One in 10 Canadians are affected by liver disease, of which there are more than 100 different types, but there still isn’t enough knowledge out there, she said.
Twenty-five years ago, Martin and her husband lost their nine-month-old son, Greg, to liver disease.
“If we had the research and knowledge, our son might be here with us today,” she said. “It just goes to show what the dollars raised here can do.”
About 800 people attended the event yesterday, where the goal was to raise $50,000. Most of that money will remain in the Ottawa area for research, education, awareness and to support people families of people with liver disease, Martin said.
Daljit Nagpal and his family founded the fundraiser after losing their daughter, Trisha, to liver disease five years ago.
An 18-year-old biomedical science student at the University of Ottawa, Trisha was admitted to hospital after a short illness. She received a liver transplant, but died from cardiac arrest.
“Hopefully, we are doing enough so that this tragedy doesn’t happen to other people,” Nagpal said. “Liver disease is a silent killer. Hopefully, we can raise awareness about liver disease.”