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Former Ottawa nurse in liver failure after accidental needle prick

Former Ottawa nurse Pam Hopkins-Dargavel is seriously ill. Her liver is failing because of an accidental needle prick 32 years ago. She is in desperate need of a liver transplant and a living donor could make all the difference.

“It’s more difficult than I ever dreamt it would be,” says Hopkins-Dargavel. “I had a very sick patient that needed the needle capped very quickly. And I put it right through my hand.”

The patient was a hemophiliac who received Hepatitis C tainted blood, which was then transferred to Hopkins-Dargavel.

Her most recent treatment for Hepatitis C was successful, but her liver is too severely damaged to recover.

“So our hope was once she kicked the Hep C there would be enough good liver for the liver to regenerate and go back to normal liver function,” says her husband Greg. “However, the psoriatic liver has so much scaring in it, that the liver can’t do its own self healing.”

For the past six months, Hopkins-Dargavel has been undergoing full blood transfusions every month. Extremely tired, she sleeps most of the day.

“She now has the liver of a 95-year-old alcoholic, despite the fact she was never a drinker,” says Greg.

Hopkins-Dargavel desperately needs a liver transplant, hopefully from a live donor.

“But unfortunately, I have a very rare blood type,” says Hopkins-Dargavel.

That blood type is B, which means she can only accept a liver from anyone with blood type O+, O-, B+ or B- between the ages of 16 and 60 and in good health. The donor does not need to be a relative or the same ethnicity.

Heather Badenoch is a living liver donor. Four years ago, she donated 22 per cent of her liver to save a child’s life.

“I had a terrific recovery, and life for me was basically back to normal within a month,” says Badenoch. “My own liver, following donation, would start regrowing on day two, full function by day 10, and was back to full volume within weeks.”

Pam and Greg are avid sailors and they are hoping a transplant will get them back on the water, with the wind in their sails, doing what they love.

“I’m hoping to get a transplant and to get back to some of my physical activities,” says Hopkins-Dargavel.

If you’d like to help, you can visit the public Facebook page for Pam’s search for a donor or the University Health Network’s Living Liver Donor Program. Top Stories

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