Re­serve Mines na­tive do­nates por­tion of her liver to a friend.

Re­serve Mines na­tive do­nates 70 per cent of her liver to friend

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE smont­gomery@cb­

All Jen­nifer Bon­a­parte had to do was hear a friend needed help and she re­sponded. How­ever what her friend needed was 70 per cent of her liver.

“I never had a thought that I wouldn’t do it,” said Bon­a­parte, 53, for­merly of Re­serve Mines and now of Ot­tawa.

“The time it was go­ing to take out of my life com­pared to the qual­ity of life that it was go­ing to give my friend, there was no ques­tion I was go­ing to do it.”

In Jan­uary 2016, Bon­a­parte learned her friend of 10 years, Kathy Craig, 64, needed a liver trans­plant.

The two women had a com­pat­i­ble blood type and it con­tained a rare com­po­nent.

Bon­a­parte said her hus­band John Bar­ber and her fam­ily were con­cerned about the pro­ce­dure.

“This was a friend, I needed to know I did what I could,” she said. “It would be a one in a mil­lion chance that I’d be a match.”

Craig was put on the trans­plant list in May and the process be­gan.

She filled out the nec­es­sary forms for the screen­ing.

“Hey I’m a Cape Bre­toner, the only ques­tion I had to think about was, ‘How many drinks do you have a week?’” she added jok­ingly.

Many ques­tions were healthre­lated but there were also fi­nan­cial ques­tions as the donor is off work for some time and has out of pocket ex­penses.

Bon­a­parte, a para­le­gal for the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, said she had banked sick time and the Tril­lium Foun­da­tion helps with ex­penses.

Mem­bers of Craig’s fam­ily were also to be tested but Bon­a­parte’s ap­pli­ca­tion was in first and only one ap­pli­cant is screened at a time.

“It’s a one in a mil­lion chance you could be a match and I was. Once you are it’s hard not to do it. “

Bon­a­parte was vis­it­ing in Cape Breton when she re­ceived a call on July 20 ask­ing if she could be at the Toronto Gen­eral Hospi­tal the next day. The surgery lasted nine hours. Bon­a­parte’s gall blad­der had to be re­moved as well as 70 per cent of her liver. It takes up­wards of eight weeks for a liver to re­gen­er­ate.

“Truth­fully it wasn’t un­til I woke up from the surgery that I re­ally be­lieved this ac­tu­ally hap­pened.”

She said the re­cov­ery was the hard­est part and her hus­band John and sis­ter Nancy Bon­a­parte, a physi­cian’s as­sis­tant, stayed by her side through it all.

“I felt like I had been hit by a Mac truck.

“Af­ter the surgery my sis­ter said, ‘Does it feel weird to know your liver is down the hall?”

Bon­a­parte was in the hospi­tal for six days and off work for 12 weeks.

She had to go to Toronto five times be­fore the trans­plant and an­other three times af­ter the trans­plant.

Bon­a­parte said months later she feels great and would help her friend all over again. “To change a life? Ab­so­lutely.” Kathy Craig said since the trans­plant her life has changed as she feels much bet­ter and is stronger.

“I can pick up my grand­child now, I can do house­work and I can shovel.”

Craig said she had an au­toim­mune dis­ease where her own body was at­tack­ing her liver and caus­ing sclero­sis.

She was di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease in 1998 and it was con­trolled through med­i­ca­tion for years. Com­pli­ca­tions be­gan in 2010.

She said it was quite a sac­ri­fice Bon­a­parte made for her and she will al­ways be grate­ful.

“It’s quite dif­fi­cult to put in words,” she said.

“Jen­nifer will do any­thing for any­one, that’s the type of per­son she is. She’s very spe­cial, she changed my life.”


Jen­nifer Bon­a­parte, left, for­merly of Re­serve Mines and now of Ot­tawa, is seen here with her friend Kathy Craig. Bon­a­parte do­nated 70 per cent of her liver to Craig in July and says she wouldn’t think twice of do­ing it again know­ing how it changed her friend’s life.

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