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Transplant after eight years of liver disease: Andre’s story

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“I was scared for a long time before. I now finally feel like I have a future,” says Andre. He recently received a liver transplant at the age of 25, after eight years of living with liver cirrhosis. (Video: UHNToronto YouTube)
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Andre Seymour Henry woke up in the middle of the night with agonizing pain in his abdomen and a disoriented state of mind. Minutes later, he started vomiting blood.

A series of testing revealed he had liver cirrhosis. He was 17 years old. Doctors couldn't identify the cause of it.

National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week 2016

April 17 – April 23, 2016

When his symptoms worsened over the following years, Andre was placed on the transplant list in February of 2013. Shortly after - deemed stable - he was taken off.

His health deteriorated again and on August of 2015, Andre found himself back on the transplant list. He needed a new liver.

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"I was in a very dark place at that point. Things had gotten really difficult for me leading up to my transplant," says Andre.

"I was sleeping for maybe an hour and a half a night. My weight was constantly fluctuating. My mental and emotional state was in disrepair."

On March 11, 2016 – six months later - Andre received the call him and his family had been waiting for. There was a liver available for him from a deceased donor.

He was at Toronto General Hospital within a few hours, and the transplant surgery was completed.

On March 17, 2016 – six days later – we interviewed Andre about his experience.

Tell us about receiving the call telling you a liver was available.

I woke up to the call in the middle of the night. When I picked up my phone, I think I must have made a specific sound because my mom suddenly ran out of her room. We both ran into the middle of the house and started dancing. I'd never been so excited to be cut open in my entire life!

How has this transplant changed your outlook?

I was scared for a long time before and now it feels like I can do anything. I finally feel like I have a future.

This liver transplant has opened up a million doors for me.

What's the first thing you'll do when you get home now that you have a new liver?

I've been thinking about that answer for a long time.

The first thing I'm going to do is pick up my little sister, get her in a car, and finally teach her how to drive. She's 16 now and a lot older than she was when all of this started. I feel like I've missed an entire decade of her life and I can't wait to make it up to her.

What do you look forward to the most?

The biggest thing for me is helping my parents and giving back to them. They've done so much for me and I want to just give back even in the smallest ways. Hopefully, eventually, I can take them on a vacation.

What would you like to say to your donor's family?

I could not ask for a better gift. I am eternally grateful to them. 

Register to be an organ and tissue donor online at www.beadonor.ca​​

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