A Quebec woman is thriving with a liver that is more than 100 years old.
The story began when Audree Deshenaux went for a solo backpack trip two decades ago when she was 19. She left Toronto in perfect health, but started experiencing fatigue on the trail.
She passed out, only to be found by David Blythe, whom she had met just two days before.
“I roll in, and there she is on the floor; she’s as yellow as you’d want to be,” said Blythe. “I got in a big panic and scooped her up and started running for the hospital.”
It turned out Deshenaux was suffering from acute fulminant hepatitis, a rare syndrome that results in rapid tissue death in the liver.
She was lucky, however. There was a match, and though she is now 39 years old, her liver is much older.
“My liver is 108 years old! It’s just amazing,” she said.
Her donor was an 88-year-old man.
“108 is old for a liver,” said transplant surgeon Dr. Prosanto Chaudhury. “The oldest donor we’ve had in Quebec is 92 years old and that liver is still doing well.”
The liver has a natural ability to regenerate, so there’s no clear limit on how far a liver can go.
A LOVE STORY
The story goes beyond the hospital surgery room. Though Blythe had just met her, he never left.
“Never, not one time,” he said. “The guys I work with said, ‘Hey you should leave because this is going to get hairy.’ No, no, no… love is love. I never once thought about deserting Audrey.”
David Blythe rescued his wife Audree Deshenaux when she was 19 years old and collapsed on a hiking trail. He stuck by her during her liver transplant and the couple now has three teenage daughters. (Kelly Greig/CTV News)
The two later married and remain together after 20 years.
“When you find somebody that — when your hearts come together like a mesh, you never want to let that go ever,” said Blythe through tears. “It’s been good. It’s been really good.”
The couple has three teenage daughters and on their 20th anniversary, Deshenaux completed the backpack trip walking from Toronto’s General Hospital to the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Montreal.
“I can really do everything else anybody else can do, just with a little bit more urge to live,” she said, adding that it was her 7,395th day with her liver.
“I still count them after 20 years. Seven thousand three hundred ninety-five reasons to enjoy life, to be grateful, to give back. It makes happiness come easy, I think when you have 7,000-plus reasons to be grateful.”