A new liver for Kari
Kari is a dear friend and one of the sweetest people I have ever met and a mom to the cutest little boy I know. It has been so difficult to watch her cope with this rare disease that will take her life if she doesn't get a liver transplant soon. Kari has family who want to donate their liver, however, the only place that the surgery can be performed is in India. Kari and her family desperately need your help in order to pay for the expenses of the surgery and trip, including: -see below
Cont... Costs Include:
Travel to India
Accomodations Pre and Post Transplant (they will need to be in India for at least 2 months)
Mortgage and bills while away
Medications not covered by insurance Pre and Post Op
Kari and her her family are hoping her surgery will be completed within the next three months (Spring 2017)
Here is Kari's story in her own words:
"In 2000, when I was 16 years old I became very ill and after spending a month in the hospital was eventually diagnosed with a rare liver disease - Autoimmune Hepatitis. It causes my own immune system to attack and destroy my liver cells. No one knows exactly what causes this disease, but it isn't caused by anything I have done. Over the last 17 years since my diagnosis, my disease has been slowed down somewhat by treatments and medications, but not enough to hold off cirrhosis and liver failure.
Despite my illness, I have had a wonderful life. I have been happily married for 11 years to my husband Kyle. In 2011 we were so excited to have a beautiful, healthy boy we named Luke.
In June of 2015 I was assessed by a Transplant Committee, who decided that I had about five years left to live unless I receive a liver transplant. We knew I was ill and that a transplant might be a possibility at some point in the future, but we were still shocked to find out that my time left was so short and that I needed a transplant very soon. At that time, I was 31 years old and our boy was 3. We were devastated.
I love my life and I feel like I absolutely have so much to live for. While the thought of dying young makes me incredibly sad, what truly breaks my heart is the pain my little boy will experience if he loses his mom at such a young age. I can't even think about it without tears flowing. He is only five years old. He is so sweet, so kind, so loving, so thoughtful and I can't bear to think how his childhood will change and his innocence will be shattered if I die. I so wanted to be a mother, and am so grateful that I am, but I know my job isn't done. I want so badly to be there for my son as he grows up. I want to be there to hold him and wipe away his tears when he has hard days, to teach him all that life has taught me and to cheer him on through all his accomplishments, big and small. He has an amazing dad, loving grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, but I really don't think any of those can replace a mother. I am determined to do everything in my power to fight to live, so that my sweet boy can be spared the pain of losing his mom.
I am so incredibly grateful that both my amazing younger brother and my beautiful, loving cousin have volunteered to be my live liver-donor. Currently they are both undergoing tests to see who is the best match. I am so thankful I have these two amazing people in my life, those who love me enough to be willing to go through a major surgery and give me a piece of themselves in order to save my life. It's incredible.
For my liver transplant, I am seeking the best treatment possible, while still holding true to my personal conscience and beliefs. Unfortunately, this kind of treatment is unavailable here in Canada. We have researched and looked into all the possible countries that would be able to help us, and have decided on India. We have found a transplant team and surgeon in Delhi who is well trained and very experienced.
When friends and family first started mentioning that they wanted to help us with the costs of our travel and surgery in India, my husband and I felt very uncomfortable. It seemed like our problem to deal with and we know everyone else is facing problems of their own. When we said how we felt hesitant and even guilty accepting help, so many friends told us that they wished there was a way they could make my health problems go away, but since they can't, helping us financially was at least something they were able to do. So Kyle and I are extremely grateful that there are those who want to contribute. We know that even small amounts add up. "Thank you" doesn't sound like enough, but I don't know how else to express how incredibly grateful we are for any help given.
Thank you so very, very much!
From the bottom of our hearts, much love - Kari, Kyle and Luke McKenzie"
Kari Gratias(maiden name)
Most of you are probably already aware of this, but I wanted to update anyone who had not yet heard about my recent liver transplant. The surgery took place November 20th, 2017 at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, AB. My brother Chad generously donated part of his liver to me. I will forever be grateful to him for this amazing and selfless gift! His surgery was around 7 or 8 hours, it went very well, he was released from the hospital 7 days later, was allowed to return home to Regina within the month, and is now back at work, 3 months later. This was a very major surgery, requiring a lengthy recovery and a long time away from home and work, not to mention quite a bit of pain. Chad still is getting his strength back and is not quite his old self, but improving all the time. Amazingly the liver is the only organ in our bodies that can grow back to normal size and function after having part of it be removed. Still, I am so, so thankful that Chad and his amazingly supportive wife Whitney, were able and more than willing to go through such a major life event so that I could be given such a gift. I love you guys so much!!!
My own surgery took around 10 hours, and also went very well. There were a few hiccups with my recovery though, but most of that has been resolved. I was in the hospital for nearly 3 weeks after the surgery and was required to stay in Edmonton for 2 months. During that time I underwent physiotherapy, occupational therapy, as well as frequent blood tests and checkups. Now we are all back home in Regina, and things continue to improve every day. The doctors tell me that it can take up to a year to find a "new normal" after a liver transplant. While I am looking forward to finding out what "normal" really means, since I've had this crazy disease for so long now, I already feel so much better than I ever expected to at this point. I feel so incredibly blessed. Before the surgery I was living with a death sentence hanging over my head, whereas now, as long as things continue to go well, I don't have to worry about that happening anytime soon. I’m looking forward to continuing on with normal life and being a mother to our beautiful son. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life.
The entire Transplant Team at the U of A Hospital was wonderful. We were cared for so well. I will forever be grateful to the amazing surgeons, doctors, nurses and other staff who took such wonderful care of us! Thank you!!!
Thank you to all of you who helped us in some way. We appreciated all of your loving messages, your donations, you gifts, your acts of kindness, your prayers, your hugs and your love. We were given EXACTLY what we needed, which I don't think is a coincidence. We feel perfectly cared for. Your help enabled us to go through this major trial and move on without being left with a massive debt. Thank you so very, very much!!! We love you all!
All our love,
Kari, Kyle and Luke McKenzie
This update is long overdue! Thank you all for the kind messages and emails asking how things have been progressing. We so appreciate that all of you care so much! So many of you have wrote to ask how things are going and have let us know that we have been in your thoughts and in your prayers. Thank you so very much!
The plans for my transplant have taken a few crazy turns. Nothing about the process of planning such a major surgery has been simple or straightforward. It would take too long to try to tell all of the details that led us to this point, so I’ll try to just tell the highlights. Basically, in a nutshell, there is a chance that the surgery will be performed here in Canada after all. Shortly after the testing for our India trip was completed, an opportunity arose for me to possibly have the surgery done here. After a couple of months of uncertainty, a lot more tests on the part of both my brother and my beautiful friend Robin, who also kindly and selflessly volunteered to be my donor and a couple of trips out to Edmonton on the part of my brother and his sweet wife, now we have been told that Edmonton has approved my brother to be my living liver donor. We were surprised and very excited to hear this news, since we had previously been told this wouldn’t be possible here. We are very grateful that the program in Edmonton reconsidered their earlier decision and has so kindly agreed to help us. However, now that Chad has been approved for surgery here, they will need to reassess my condition and approve me for surgery. Kyle and I will be headed to Edmonton at the end of this month for a four day assessment, with lots of tests and several appointments with different specialists. So a lot depends on what they find in testing and how I respond to the drug treatment I need prior to surgery. We are very hopeful that all will go smoothly and that I will be approved for transplant here in Canada. My brother and I both strongly feel that having the surgery done here would be what is best for all of us involved.
There is also still the possibility that this option may not work out, in which case, we will be going forward with our plans to have the surgery performed abroad.
Both Kyle and I, as well as my brother Chad and his wife Whitney, want to again say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who so kindly and generously supported this fundraiser. You all touched our hearts very deeply, to see how many friends and family stepped in to help take care of us, and also strangers we have never even met! You all have very beautiful hearts. Without a doubt, I can say personally that this has been the hardest time our little family has ever had to face, but you all have helped ease some of our worries and made this hard time a little less hard. Thank you so very much!!!
Some of you might be wondering about our expenses or needs if the surgery were to take place here. While most of the medical costs relating to the surgery would be covered here in Canada, we would still have quite a number of expenses relating to the surgery. These would be things like the trips we are making for the testing process, travel and accommodation during the actual surgery and time we need to spend afterward in Edmonton (which is at least 2-3 months for myself and at least 3-4 weeks for my brother), expenses relating to time away from work during recovery (my brother won’t be able to work for at least 3 months post surgery and will need some help recovering during that time), medication and medical equipment not covered by insurance and post surgery trips to Edmonton for checkups. At this point I don’t really know enough to make an accurate estimate, but I think I can safely say that if the surgery takes place here in Canada, then what we have raised thus far is enough to cover our expenses. If there were to be anything remaining after we have covered our expenses, we would not feel comfortable keeping anything beyond what was needed to assist us during this hard time. At that point we could let you all know that our needs have been met and if any of the donors felt they themselves would like their money returned we would be more than happy to do so, otherwise we would donate whatever is left to someone else in need of assistance. If any of the donors have any questions or concerns regarding their donation and how it would be used, you can write to Kyle and I directly at this email address: email@example.com If the option to have our surgery here in Canada doesn’t work out, then obviously we will be using the funds raised towards the transplant fees and travel expenses surrounding it, in another country.
I want to say a heartfelt thank you to those of you who have been personally involved in trying to save my life. Thank you Ryan and Cheryl, Robin and Mike and also my dear cousin Jenn – all of you went through various stages of testing to see if it would be possible for you to be my living donor and for that you all hold a very special place in our hearts, both Kyle’s and mine. We are forever grateful to you all for what you were willing to do for us! You all have beautiful hearts and the world needs more people like yourselves! Also, we owe a huge thank you to Sharilyn. Thank you for being our cheerleader throughout and for organizing this fundraiser and sacrificing so much time away from your own life and family to help us! To Chad and Whitney, you guys have never hesitated and have been with us on this journey for two years now, and I don’t know where we would be if it weren’t for you both! We love you both so much.
Also, one more thing – we were only able to get hand written thank you notes to some of you, to the rest of you, please check your inbox, or perhaps your spam or junk folders. Kyle and myself have sent thank you notes to most of you via the Go Fund Me site’s reply button, and I believe the sender then shows up as “Go Fund Me”, so it may have been sent to spam. We are nearly through the list, but I am so sorry if we miss anyone, please just know how grateful we are!!!
I will post another update once we have more info on when and where the surgery will take place.
Kari, Kyle & Luke McKenzie
This update is long overdue, but I wanted to let you all know how our plans for surgery are progressing.
First of all, we want to say a huge THANK YOU for all of the amazing support we have received thus far. It has been truly overwhelming to see how much everyone cares and is cheering us on! We are so incredibly grateful for all of your generous donations! There has not been one time where we aren't absolutely touched and moved. It's been just over a month since this page was started, and you all have raised over $87,000. You have taken away the bulk of our financial burden, and made it possible for my family and I to not have to stress about selling our home right now and have the added stress of moving, on top of our health worries. You all did that for us and it is truly amazing. I am working my way through the list slowly (there are so many of you!) to send more personal thank you messages, but right now, please know that we are so grateful to each and every one of you. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!
Thank you also for all of the messages you have been sending, both here on the Go Fund Me page, by email, text, Facebook and Instagram and also through other friends and family. I am so sorry if I haven't been able to respond to all of them, I probably average at least 20 personal messages per day, but please know we read them all and feel so loved and supported. We are so moved when we receive messages from not only old friends but from you "friends we have never met" and are just so touched by your love, your giving spirit, your prayers, your kind wishes and thoughts. They all mean so much!
All of the donor tests have now been completed, so we are just waiting on all of the results, we should have all of those by about March 1st. After that, we can forward those to the Surgeon in India.
We are also still figuring out some of the treatment I require before surgery. As with all things medical, often there are waits and when these things involve several different specialists, across several different cities and two different countries - well as you can imagine it's quite a process. Coordinating all of this has been a massive undertaking, but there have been many lovely medical professionals in both countries who are helping us arrange the help we need. There are still things to figure out, however we are making progress and as soon as we can, we will be leaving for Delhi. Hopefully sometime in the month of March, but we will keep you all updated!
Much love and many thanks,
Kari, Kyle and Luke McKenzie
ALSO, " thank you to everyone again so much for the overwhelming support and love we are receiving. We are so very grateful!" Kari and Family
We will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers. Love ❤️
What a surprising turn of events! And a blessing! We've been wondering what was happening. Will continue to keep you in our prayers. Much love sweet girl
So happy to read an update. I've been wondering how things are moving along. It's so encouraging to hear that many have donated and eased your burden somewhat. I continue to keep you in my prayers! Much Christian love, Mary