WAITING GAME: Cornwall teacher undergoes liver transplant

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Kim MacLennan with her daughter Alex.

CORNWALL, Ontario - Kim MacLennan has waited years for a new liver - now she and her family will wait some more to make sure the surgery won't result in complications.

MacLennan, whose own liver had been ravaged by a massive cyst that had completely destroyed two of the three veins that transport blood through the organ, underwent an eight-hour surgery Wednesday beginning at 3 p.m.

Her husband Hamish said in an interview from the Toronto General Hospital that all indications are the surgery was a success, but it's still early.

"Her first set of blood tests can back good," he said. "The blood is flowing through the liver and the liver is processing it as it should."

But there are still concerns about possible infection and rejection, so doctors will be monitoring her progress closely in the coming days.

Of course the concerns now are nothing compared to the joy the family experienced at finally seeing the surgery completed.

MacLennan has been waiting years for the procedure and many times made the long trip to Toronto to get prepped for surgery, only to have the procedure cancelled at the last minute thanks to incompatibility.

"This is a new lease on life for her," said Hamish. "She can hopefully get back to some normalcy and teaching."

The condition got so bad that she went public last year, in hopes that a so-called "live" donor might step up and offer a portion of their liver to help.

The liver can actually regenerate when just a portion of it is removed from the body.

MacLennan is a mother of two who teaches at Holy Trinity Secondary School, and road a medical roller coaster over the last 10 years.

She had been suffering with a cyst adenoma - a cyst with "a mind of its own" attached to her liver. In an interview last year she said she was one of only nine in the world to have such a condition.

The destructive mass, filled with bile, had grown so large it was beginning to actually rotate her right kidney.

Complications since the cyst was discovered in 2002 read like a medical resume from hell. Tubes had been inserted in the cyst to help draw away the bile which adds to its size. But with no bile being used to help her digest food, MacLennan had lost 90 pounds, her hair was falling out and she had little to no strength.

Hopefully that will all change with her new liver.

In a social media post before her surgery MacLennan thanked the donor, an unknown person who passed away.

"Another half hour and I will be on the transplant floor," she said. "I am grateful to the donor and family and I pray that this liver is indeed my gift of life."

Organizations: Toronto General Hospital, Holy Trinity Secondary School

Geographic location: Ontario, Toronto

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  • Marsha king
    May 02, 2014 - 15:03

    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers , stay strong ..