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Circumstance made family extraordinary

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The Globa family is an ordinary family.

They have lived in the Maples for the past 30 years. Joe and Brenda are both retired educators. Their three daughters, Ashley, Katlin, and Meghan, are successful young adults.

At first glance, there is nothing extraordinary about this family, but dig deeper and you will find an amazing story of love, sacrifice, and healing.

Joe was first diagnosed with liver disease in 2000. The family kept the diagnosis to themselves, but knew that, eventually, he would require a liver transplant. By 2008, Joe’s symptoms had become worse.

He was tired, had yellow skin and eyes, lost his appetite, and was unable to keep up with work. As his condition rapidly deteriorated, Dr. Minuk, whom the family describes as "the liver specialist and our saviour," determined that Joe needed a transplant. Katlin, 21 at the time, came forward as a potential donor. Miraculously, she proved to be a match for her dad.

Liver transplants are not performed in Manitoba. Being accepted for a liver transplant is a fine line. The patient cannot be too well or too sick, and the operation is only performed out of province. After being hospitalized for a collapsed lung at Seven Oaks Hospital, the family received word that the University of Alberta Hospital would be their destination. Brenda, Joe, and Katlin had 12 hours to get ready for the medevac jet.

In Edmonton, Joe and Katlin underwent a series of tests to see if the operation would be possible. Finally on June 15, a double operating room became available. Each surgery took twelve hours. Joe remained heavily sedated in ICU for three days, and remained in hospital until July 13. After he was discharged, he returned to the hospital daily for physiotherapy, blood tests, medical tests and appointments.

Katlin went into the operation a perfectly healthy 21 year old. She was brave enough to undertake this life threatening surgery to save her dad. Katlin remained in hospital for one week.

Life, of course, continued in Winnipeg. Neighbours helped take care of the family pets, and looked after the house and property. Ashley and Meghan returned home after the transplant, as Ashley had knee surgery scheduled. Meghan was there to care for her sister.

Today, Joe is fine, healthy and appreciating life. Katlin is well, and enjoying her teaching career. She is very humble about what she did for her father. A special bond exists between Katlin and her dad. It is not every day that a daughter saves her father’s life.  Katlin will always be a hero to Joe.

The family learned some important lessons from the experience. A close family to start with, it has brought them even closer together. They have learned that, "Family is everything", and that, "Love can make you strong and can get you through anything."
"Joe refused to die, and always had hope." Katlin sacrificed her health to save her dad. The Globa family is an ordinary family who, under tragic circumstances, became extraordinary.  

Joanne O’Leary is a community correspondent for Riverbend.

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