Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Potential Liver Donors Offer to Help Inuk Woman Rejected for Transplant

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Potential Liver Donors Offer to Help Inuk Woman Rejected for Transplant

Article excerpt

Potential liver donors offer to help Inuk woman

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TORONTO - A lawyer for an Inuk activist suffering from acute liver failure says several supporters have volunteered to be her organ donor, but the search for a viable match is being stalled by an Ontario transplant program's six-month sobriety requirement.

According to friends and family, Delilah Saunders was sent to a Toronto hospital in critical condition after having been denied a spot on a transplant waiting list because she hadn't remained sober for the previous six months.

Lawyer Caryma S'ad, who is representing Saunders, said the 26-year-old woman's condition has slightly improved and she seemed more like her usual self on Sunday as she and her family awaited further test results to find out if she is on track to make a recovery or still needs a liver transplant.

"We're still in that wait-and-see game, but by all accounts, she looks stronger and in better spirits," S'ad said. "She's an incredible and resilient person, so if anyone's going to fight through this, it's hopefully going to be Delilah."

After being diagnosed with acute liver failure about a week ago, Saunders was transferred from the Ottawa Hospital to Toronto General Hospital on Thursday to be assessed in a transplant clinic.

S'ad said friends, family and even strangers have offered to donate parts of their liver to Saunders, but none of the candidates have been screened because of an Ontario organ donation agency's policy requiring patients with alcohol-related liver damage to abstain from substance use for a minimum of six months.

"If a transplant is needed, the first step will be determining her eligibility," she said. "(There are) things that could be happening in the background, but she's not on the list yet."

The Trillium Gift of Life Network, which provides organs for transplants in Ontario, says its abstinence policy is used across Canada and the United States.

A spokesperson for Trillium has confirmed the agency plans to launch a pilot project to suspend the six-month requirement and provide transplants to almost 100 patients with alcohol-related liver disease. …

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