SUMMERSIDE – Gordon MacFarlane was in his first year of law school at Dalhousie University when he realized he felt more tired than usual.
Some people would say that being fatigued while in school is a given, but MacFarlane felt it was something different.
He decided to make an appointment with his family doctor in January 2001. The doctor examined him and called for blood work.
A few days had passed, and MacFarlane was at a basketball game with his friends when someone came into the gym to tell him to call his parents.
The doctor had left a message saying that he needed to go get a liver biopsy done, said MacFarlane.
“I was staying at my parents at this time in Stanley Bridge, and there was a storm coming, so I stayed at the Quality Inn.”
He had gotten to his appointment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, for the biopsy and a few days later the results were in. The message the doctor left was very straightforward, said MacFarlane.
“You have this liver disease, this is what it is, and your only option is a transplant.”
It was a big adjustment. Not just for him, but for his family and girlfriend.
“We looked at it in one way, keep going and deal with it and do whatever you can.”
Six weeks after getting that message, Macfarlane and his girlfriend, Michelle, were on their way to Halifax to meet the “team” of experts in this field.
The doctors explained that he would be monitored for key factors such as liver infections, skin colour changes and told him that “there’s no doubt that your liver is going to fail, you’re going to get sicker.”
If being diagnosed with a liver disease wasn’t enough, from the age of 15, MacFarlane had inflammation in the colon and he had to get a yearly scope. In spring 2003, after undergoing the annual scope, his test results showed that some of the polyps found were cancerous and that he needed to have his colon removed.
That fall, before the surgery, MacFarlane and his now wife, Michelle, flew to Jamaica to get married.
“Between the colon surgery and being monitored for the liver, I was under a lot of supervision.” In January of 2005, the couple welcomed their first-born son, Matt MacFarlane.
MacFarlane continued to work because he had a young family, but he was tired most of the time.
“But I didn’t think I was tired because my liver isn’t working well, I thought I’m tired because of life.”
Six months down the road, at 7:50 a.m., as MacFarlane was getting for work, he got a call from one of the nurses from Halifax, asking if he wanted to come over for a transplant.
His only response was: “Yeah I do.”
Within the 10 minutes after getting the call and calling his wife, she had the bags and baby all ready to go when he got home.
The surgery went well, but one of the hardest parts came after the surgery, he said. There was a “super bug” going through the hospital and there was a no babies allowed policy.
“It was the first time I didn't get to see Matt for six to seven days. It was tough.”
After spending a week in the hospital, MacFarlane was reluctant to miss another moment in his son's life. The hospital allowed him to walk down to the hotel where his wife and son were staying.
“Matt was on the floor and soon after I got there, he crawled for the first time.”
Fast forward over 10 years later, MacFarlane is a father of two and still continues to live a healthy life.
He never let being diagnosed with a liver disease stop him from living his life, he explained, adding, someone can try to stay healthy and live the best they can, but it is completely out of your control and to people waiting for transplants.
“Just stay positive and keep on living.”