‘It’s right now life or death’: Winnipeg man in need of living liver donor

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg father needs a liver transplant to survive.

“Right now our plea is to try and find a live donor,” said Robyn Nault, whose husband has required a donor for the past five years.

Robyn said her husband Riley has been in the hospital since Nov. 12, 2020, at which time the family was told to say their goodbyes.

“To this day, the doctors do not know how he pulled out of this,” she said.

Robyn added that Riley was on life support about a week ago, and is now relearning how to walk, eat, and use the washroom.

“He has to work with people to get the strength back up to be able to function on his own during the day and right now he’s still waiting for a transplant and he’s in the hospital fighting a cold,” Robyn said.

FINDING A DONOR

Riley requires a living donor with blood type O, and though one of his sons matches this description, he can’t be the donor due to his age.

Riley’s son is 15, but legally, he has to be 16 to be a living donor. The teenager won’t be 16 until September 2021.

“For us, at this point in time, why are we waiting those months?” Nault said. 

“It’s right now life or death. My husband’s best option is his son, just for that close match.”

Robyn said she’s exhausted every avenue to get her son approved to be a match, but no one will budge.

“It’s unfair,” she said. 

“My son has been wanting to do this over the five years and nobody’s talking to him, nobody’s asked him.”

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Robyn said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused even more difficulties for her husband and family, as it has made it even harder to find a live donor.

She added she can’t even visit Riley in the hospital due to public health restrictions.

“I was able to do a couple of FaceTime calls when he was still sedated and on the ventilator and I just tried encouraging him, stay strong, don’t give up, we’re almost there, anything I could just to keep him going and now all I get is to talk to him on the phone and it’s not same,” she said.

Anyone who wants to find out if they can donate, should find out their blood type and fill out the UHN live donor health history questionnaire.

– With files from CTV’s Nicole Dube.

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