Mom urges organ donation after daughter saved by transplant

A Winnipeg mom is urging people to register as organ donors this week during National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week.

Cynthia Jessop's daughter Piper Coffin is alive thanks to an organ donation she got in 2014.

Piper had a genetic condition called Alagille syndrome, which affected how her organs developed.

In July 2014, her health deteriorated rapidly.

"She ended up getting a cold. We're not sure exactly what it was, and then her kidney and her liver started to fail," said Jessop. "The next thing you know, we were on an airplane out to Sick Kids [in Toronto]."

Piper was put on dialysis but slipped into a coma. Five days later, a liver transplant arrived.

"Luckily we got one. It was pretty much in the nick of time for us," said Jessop.

Piper underwent more than nine hours of surgery and 130 blood transfusions while she was in hospital in Toronto.

She went on to have nine surgeries over the next year and a half.

Now, Jessop says, Piper is doing well.

"Piper is always on the go right now. Just little things have changed  — her colour. She used to be quite jaundiced before," said Jessop. "It's kind of nice. She just seems like a normal child now."

Jessop is hoping Piper's story will inspire Manitobans to sign up to become organ donors.

"It's something that we don't like to think about, but it is something, I believe, that is important for all Canadians," said Jessop.

She said another way people can help is by donating to groups like the David Foster Foundation.

The foundation helped Jessop's family with non-medical expenses throughout the ordeal.

When Piper was flown from Winnipeg to Toronto, only one family member, Jessop, was able to go with her.

The organization flew out Jessop's husband and Piper's twin sister and paid for accommodation for the entire family.

"Because we were there for close to six months it became quite a financial burden. Honestly, I don't know if we would've been able to do it without the help of the David Foster Foundation," said Jessop. "There are an awful lot of families that end up having to go through this and it's a nightmare having to think about the financial burden at the same time."

National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week runs from April 16 to 22.