'A big ask': Charlottetown woman seeking living liver donor

·3 min read
Hara Kempton suffers from a rare liver disease and requires a liver transplant. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Hara Kempton suffers from a rare liver disease and requires a liver transplant. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

A Charlottetown nurse is reaching out to the community to ask a huge favour: she's looking for a live donor for a liver transplant.

Hara Kempton suffers from Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a rare autoimmune liver disease that attacks the bile ducts.

Last year, she was placed on a transplant list for a deceased donor. But now that she's getting sicker, she's turning to social media in search of a person willing to give her part of their liver.

"Some of the things that have been going on over the last few years has been: a lot more pain, a lot less energy to live my life," Kempton said.

"We have a new grand-baby that we want to spend time with, we have family and friends that we like to see and all of that has changed.

"Often I don't make plans too far ahead of time because I never know I'm actually going to be able to attend."

Kempton started Facebook page named "The Big Ask- A new Liver for Hara" in which she asks for volunteers to the Living Liver Donor Program in order to become a potential donor.

She said it was a difficult decision to ask for help.

"It was something that took us a little while to decide that we were okay with asking. And then we did some research and talked to some living donors that have donated in the past, and was able to come to terms with [it]," she said.

"It may be a big ask to ask people, but there's lots of people who may be willing to do it."

"It's hard and I try to be supportive and positive about it," says Kempton's husband, Philip Carr.

"But the reality is her liver is failing and she needs a new one. And we're hoping somebody hears about this and steps up to offer part of theirs."

'Finding a donor is urgent'

Healthy people between ages 16 and 60 who have a O+ or O- blood type can apply to donate part of their liver. The donor's organ will grow back in two to three months.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Living liver donor transplants are performed at the Toronto General Hospital.

P.E.I. reimburses up to $5,500 in travel and living expenses to anyone donating to an Island resident, even if they get part-way through the screening process and aren't accepted or change their minds.

"Donors give anywhere from 20 to 75 per cent of their liver and the recovery looks about the same regardless of how much you give and people go back to normal life," says Heather Badenoch, a living liver donor and volunteer who's been helping Kempton in her search.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Kempton said the transplant needs to be done urgently or else she risks becoming too sick to actually go through the process.

"A person who is so sick that they need to be on the transplant list is obviously incredibly sick and so finding a donor is urgent and we really hope that Hara's donor is found soon," Badenoch said.

Kempton said two-thirds of people who apply to become potential donors are disqualified for various reasons, so she's seeking a lot of people to join the list.

She said a donor could save two lives, as she will be removed from the deceased donor list and leave room there for somebody else.

The Centre for Living Organ Donation hosts monthly online information sessions for potential donors.

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