Saturday, July 10, 2010

Man donates part of liver to dad while awaiting second child

Peter Boughan donated 70 percent of his liver to his father Robin


Fatherhood has extraordinary meaning in Burlington's Boughan family.

Son Peter, 30, recently donated 70 per cent of his liver to his father Robin, 63. It saved Robin's life.

In a week or two, Peter will become a father again when his wife Jen gives birth to their second child.

"My dad's health was going down quite rapidly and I love my dad," said Peter about undergoing the transplant despite having 15-month-old daughter Leah to care for and another baby on the way.

"I don't think I could live with myself happily if I didn't do anything and I could have made a difference."

Peter, a supply teacher, was the third person tested for suitability. The first, Robin's brother who 21 years ago donated bone marrow to help Robin to fight leukemia, turned out to be a no-go. Same for Robin's daughter.

In all, seven family members, friends and fellow churchgoers at Hamilton's Philpott Memorial had offered part of their liver. Many more in Hamilton, Burlington, the U.S. and Africa offered their prayers after hearing about Robin through friends, family or the church network.

"This is the answer to the prayers of many people," Robin said. "It became a wonder to me to hear from someone that so and so was praying for me.

"The whole thing has an emotion for me that is very gripping. I get very emotional these people would do this for me ... and to think my son would do what he did for me ..."

Robin, a retired teacher and former art department head at Sherwood Secondary in Hamilton, was diagnosed in March 2009 with cirrhosis.

"He doesn't even drink," said his wife Sandy.

Doctors who did the transplant at Toronto General blamed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. His Hamilton doctors thought it was something else. Whatever the cause, the result was the same: he needed a new liver or he would die.

Robin was put on a list for a transplant this November when his symptoms worsened. He moved up when his kidneys started to fail and water retention bloated him severely. By March 31, doctors bumped another patient out of surgery to make room for Robin's operation because he was too sick to wait anymore.

"It was very stressful," Sandy said. "Because you have both of them in surgery at the same time, on the same day, and they are long surgeries."

Peter's surgery was seven hours, Robin's 13.

"Even though they tell you Peter's healthy, it's still stressful," Sandy said. "He has a wife who's pregnant and a daughter ..."

Both she and Robin urge people to sign their donor card and make their wishes for organ donation clear to their families, especially when it comes to livers.

Once in, liver transplants have the lowest chance of rejection among transplants and 90 per cent of the removed portion used in the transplant grows back within 12 weeks, doctors told them.

"They are looking for liver donors all the time," Sandy said.

From a statistical point of view, the transplant is relatively risk-free, said Robin. Even 80-year-olds can donate because the liver is an organ that regenerates itself.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network. NEW for Ontario: - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
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Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help 75 to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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