Charlestown resident looking for liver donors
— A town resident is in search of a live liver donor due to complications from a cirrhosis diagnosis several years ago.
Two weeks ago, Debbie Miklas, who is also a secretary at Charlestown Elementary School, was placed on the University of Maryland Medical Center Division of Transplantation’s deceased transplant list. Miklas was moved up on the donor list due to complications from the cirrhosis, including fluid in her lungs.
In addition, Miklas said she and her family are also looking for live donors to further increase the chances of finding a match.
Miklas was initially diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis in 2007 after blood work showed her liver enzymes were high and a biopsy of her liver was performed. Miklas said she does not drink alcohol and therefore knows the issue couldn’t be used by alcoholism, a common cause of cirrhosis.
“I just went back for a recheck for my gall bladder removal and that’s when he told me,” she said. “I was shocked because I really hadn’t had any side effects at that point.”
In addition to the disease, Miklas has experienced issues with fluid in her lungs, as well as esophageal varices. Within the last six months or so, Miklas has had
fluid drained at least five times. In 2009, the varices were taken care of when doctors put bands around veins that were bleeding, as well as periodic check-ups to make sure everything is OK. She said she also suffered from ultraviolet (UV) melanoma on her eye a few years ago, although that cancer is in remission.
To help with the health issues she has, Miklas said she takes ursodiol three time a day to slow the progression of the disease and daily diuretic medications for fluid in her lungs.
Cirrhosis is caused when the bile ducts are affected by the body, said Dr. John LaMattina, assistant professor of surgery at the UMD’s School of Medicine and director of the living donor liver transplant at the UMD Maryland Medical Center.
LaMattina said there are over 400 people on UMD’s deceased liver transplant list, but over 17,000 nationally pertaining just to the liver.
For those who are interested in being live donors, they must go through a screening process.
LaMattina said the first step in the screening process for the transplant includes matching the blood type. He said the general rule is if the donor and the person in need do not have the same blood type, they are ruled out.
LaMattina said there are risks involved for the donor including minor ones such as infection, fever and nausea, as well as more serious, uncommon risks such as liver failure and death. He said none of thoee more serious issues have occurred at UMD, but in the United States those risks have occurred.
“It’s something we take very seriously at UMD,” LaMattina said of transplant surgeries.
Miklas said none of her immediate family, which includes her husband and three children, are eligible to be donors because they have different blood types. She has an O type and they do not.
Miklas said she has had possible live donors, such as her daughter-in-law’s friend who was eliminated during the screening process due to previous abdominal surgeries. She also said the husband of the friend who was ruled out is also interested in donating, but does not know where he is in the process.
To help find live donors, Miklas’ husband, Phil posted on Facebook about his wife’s need for a donor. Phil said he decided to make the post because it seemed like it was taking a long time to find a donor.
He said Debbie has double the chances of finding a match due to looking for a live donor, as well as being on the deceased transplant list.
“I might put it back on there now that I’ve been educated more,” Phil said.
For instance, he said he’s learned that the liver regenerates itself, as well as that it is the largest organ.
He said if he posts another message on Facebook, he would add that if there is a match between the live donor and his wife, the donor would be out of work for to six to eight weeks.
For those who are interested in being a liver donor for Miklas, people can reach Phil Miklas at email@example.com.
CCPS reminds families to register for pre-k, kindergarten
— With the first day of school now less than two weeks ago, Cecil County Public Schools officials are reminding county families to register their children for pre-K and kindergarten.
Any child who lives in Cecil County and will be 5 years old on or before Sept. 1 can register. While every student gets into kindergarten, there are certain qualifications kids must meet to be automatically enrolled in one of the county’s pre-K programs.
Spots in the half-day, pre-K classes, which are offered at all 17 of the county’s elementary schools, are open first to economically disadvantaged and homeless students, and then to special education students. Any child who doesn’t qualify under those two categories is placed on a wait list and their enrollment is delayed until after the first two weeks of school.
Parents can register their child for pre-K or kindergarten by going to their home elementary school, where the school secretaries will help them through the process.
For pre-K registration, parents will need to bring a copy of their child’s birth certificate, proof of Cecil County residency and proof of income eligibility, if applicable. For kindergarten registration, parents will need to bring a copy of their child’s birth certificate, proof of Cecil County residency and up-to-date immunization records.
Anyone with questions can contact the Early Childhood Office at 410-996-5424.
Justin, Debbie and Phil Miklas stand in front of the Northeast River in Charlestown on Monday night.