Had Alistair Stark finally not received a liver transplant when he did, he would have only lived another four months at most. A living donor came to his rescue with a portion of healthy liver – it was Alistair’s son, Stuart.
In the fall of 2000 he was diagnosed with liver disease, a progressive condition that threatened to lead to severe complications. By the following year he’d lost 85 pounds and was placed on the transplant waiting list. “I was so weak and so sick, I said ‘cure me or let me go’,” said Alistair on the eve of his surgery. “My transplant team told me afterwards I would have been dead within four months.”
Alistair’s son, Stuart, 25, performed his own labour of love – he donated half of his liver to his Dad. Stuart was carefully prepared for the nine-hour operation and through the outstanding expertise of clinicians in the Living Donor Transplant Program his father’s life was saved on June 6, 2002.
“I’ve been called a hero for what I did – a title I've never felt comfortable with,” says Stuart, whose liver gradually grew back to normal size. “I simply supplied the parts! It is the transplant team, technology and Toronto General Hospital that have a better claim to that name than I do.”
The internationally renowned Multi Organ Transplant Program at University Health Network serves Toronto as well as Ontario, Canada and the international community. Transplantation is a life-saving treatment for patients with organ failure involving the heart, liver, lung, kidney or pancreas. A talented team of physicians, surgeons, nurses and other allied health professionals makes UHN a leader in transplantation worldwide.
Liver transplantation is a life-saving operation for patients with end-stage liver disease. Although the liver is often able to regenerate and recover from disease, liver transplants become necessary when a patient's disease has spread throughout the liver, making it impossible for the liver tissue to heal.
UHN performs approximately 80 liver transplants each year. In 2000, the living donor liver program at UHN performed its first living donor liver transplant. This process, in which an immediate family member or an anonymous donor donates a portion of the liver, can save the life of someone waiting for a suitable organ – just as Stuart saved his Dad’s life.