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Hepatitis Infected Liver Saves Life

mother, father and two stands stand in front of Christmas tree wearing Oiler's hockey jersey's

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mother, father and two stands stand in front of Christmas tree wearing Oiler's hockey jersey's
Photo via GoFundMe

By Scott Zielsdorf

For one NAIT staff member, the battle to save her husband’s life has come at a cost.

Barbara Boisjoli’s husband Guy Boisjoli needed a new liver for the treatment of late-stage liver disease. They never imagined the liver that saved his life would be infected with hepatitis C.

Boisjoli, who works in Supply Management at NAIT, says that while her husband’s situation has not overly impacted her work, she has had to deal with some emotional and mental strain. Boisjoli says she is lucky to be working at the school.

“NAIT has been incredible. I couldn’t think of a better place to work through this whole thing,” Boisjoli said.

The family’s struggle began last October. Boisjoli’s husband needed surgery for the treatment of a hernia. However, when it came time for the operation one of the medical personnel noticed a complication. The surgery was postponed and the family went to the emergency for testing.

Doctors ran a computed tomography (CT) scan on Boisjoli’s husband. He was suffering from an advanced case of liver disease.

Guy immediately began eating a green-filled, low sodium diet to reduce the stress on his liver but shortly after Christmas, his condition worsened. Doctors confirmed he was in the end-stages of liver disease.

“He was quite jaundiced…he was very sick,” explained Boisjoli.

“We were at the Sturgeon [Hospital] at that point, and they didn’t know the extent of the damage…they didn’t have the proper equipment to make that call.”

Guy was transferred to the University of Alberta hospital where they discovered he was in complete liver failure. He was rushed onto the transplant list.

A donor became available. The only complication was that the donor was Hepatitis C positive. The doctor’s presented the option to the family, explaining that the liver was infected, but could still be used.

“Five years ago they wouldn’t even offer that liver…because it wouldn’t be considered a viable organ. But because of the treatments available today, it was considered viable,” Boisjoli said.

Her husband’s transplant was a success, and he completed hepatitis treatments on April 28.

“It will be a battle for a little while yet, but he’s here and he’s alive…I have my husband, and my kids have their dad,” said Boisjoli.

Currently, all routine check-ins for Boisjoli’s husband are done via phone to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 while on immunity-suppressing medication for his transplant.

Boisjoli emphasizes the importance of organ donation. No matter what’s going on in the world there are always people like her husband who desperately need life-saving transplants.

“All it takes is filling out an online form…and talking to your loved ones about what you want to have donated,” said Boisjoli. “There are dozens and dozens of things that medicine can use from the body to help someone live a healthy, normal life.”

The family has created a Go Fund Me page to help with the expenses of Guy’s treatment.

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