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West Prince man hopes to receive piece of a liver from a live donor

Josephine and Kevin Clements are turning their hopes to Toronto General Hospital’s live donor program. Kevin is in desperate need of a liver transplant to survive.
Josephine and Kevin Clements are turning their hopes to Toronto General Hospital’s live donor program. Kevin is in desperate need of a liver transplant to survive. - Eric McCarthy

Kevin Clements heading to Toronto in early April

MONTROSE, P.E.I. —

Brothers Kevin and Carl Clements may soon share a liver.

Kevin, 53, lives in Montrose, P.E.I. His liver is slowly failing, and he fears he will soon die if he doesn’t receive a transplant.

For the past year he has been on a transplant list for a liver at a Halifax hospital. He and his wife, Josephine, rushed to Nova Scotia last fall when a cadaver liver became available. That liver was subsequently deemed unviable.

With both time and hope running out, the Clements family have enrolled with the live donor program at Toronto General Hospital, hoping to obtain part of a liver from a live donor.

One of the unique qualities of a liver is that it can regenerate itself.

Several people have volunteered to be donors and, topping the list, is Kevin’s 54-year-old brother, Carl who lives in Ontario.

Kevin and Carl are the sons of Ferdie Clements of Roseville, and the late Doris Clements. They were born in Ontario, but moved to their parents’ native P.E.I. in their teens. Carl, who returned to Ontario 25 years ago and has been employed ever since as a lead hand at Riverside Brass in New Hamburg, Ont., has already been through extensive testing to see if he can be approved as a donor.

“Hopefully everything is coming together, and they get great news out of all this testing,” said Carl said in a telephone interview from Ontario.

By the time he returns to Toronto for more testing on April 9 and 10, Kevin and Josephine hope to be there, too.

“Without this surgery, his chances are nearly nil, so he needs this now and we’re all for it and I am hopefully healthy enough to do this and get it done for him.”
-Carl Clements

The Montrose couple need to be in Toronto April 22 to 24 so that Kevin can undergo a battery of tests. They’re going early so that Kevin, in his frail condition, will have time to rest and recover from the trip prior to reporting to hospital. They are hoping a transplant can be arranged while they are in Ontario.

Asked if he’s nervous about the prospect of being a donor, Carl responded, “I don’t know if I’m nervous or not. I’m more excited because, hopefully, Kevin will get back to the way he was four or five years ago.

“He’s had a pretty rough four or five years. Hopefully this will work, and it will get him back with us again.”

The brothers are aware the transplant presents risks for both of them and particularly for Kevin.

“Without this surgery, his chances are nearly nil, so he needs this now and we’re all for it and I am hopefully healthy enough to do this and get it done for him,” said Carl.

Although other people are in line to be tested if Carl is ruled out as a donor, Josephine said they are really hoping the transplant happens soon. She said her husband is ailing more and more and lost 10 pounds in the past week, pounds that he can ill-afford to lose.

It’s to the point, she said, that his family doctor is considering inserting a feeding tube so that he will remain strong enough to receive a transplant.

Accepting the risks

Although Toronto General has performed close to 1,000 liver transplants, they have successfully performed only four on patients with Kevin’s condition, Hepatopulmonary Syndrome which has caused his liver to shrink and blood vessels to bypass it.

The Montrose couple is accepting of the risks associated with the transplant procedure.

“We don’t have much choice,” said Josephine, stressing that her husband is “at the end of his rope.”

Even with a successful transplant, there is potential that Kevin could be in an induced coma for three to four months post-surgery.

Carl is encouraged by what he has seen and heard at Toronto General, including testimonials of liver donors and recipients.

“It’s overwhelming to hear the stories; they’re great stories,” he said.

“The transplant team, and people at the front desk, they do everything they can to make you comfortable. They’re absolutely amazing.”

Fundraising efforts underway

A series of fundraising events are being arranged to assist Kevin and Josephine Clements with the costs of a trip to Toronto and potentially, a liver transplant for Kevin while they are there.

Kevin’s brother, Carl, is currently undergoing tests to see if he is a viable live donor.

Kevin’s liver disease has made it impossible for him to work in recent years and Josephine will have to put her massage therapy business on hold while in Ontario.
To help with the cost of the trip to Ontario and, potentially, a multi-month stay following a successful transplant, a fundraising concert will be held at the Tignish Legion on Sunday, March. 24 at 7 p.m. There will be live entertainment featuring the Clements Family, Kurk Bernard and Blair Gaudet. A live auction will follow.

There is also a 50-50 draw underway with a chance of someone winning up to $5,000. Tickets are being sold at several locations throughout West Prince. A fundraising Bingo for the couple is planned for March 30.

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