Jackie’s Story

Jackie’s Story

Jackie Kelly was diagnosed almost seven years ago with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), secondary to non-alcoholic cirrhosis. Jackie, 53, living in Calgary, has been married for nineteen years to her husband and works in the health industry as a phlebotomist, which unintentionally connects her with patients who also have been diagnosed with liver disease. Jackie has three siblings, one of whom was diagnosed with PBC and her father, who was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and received a liver transplant over the course of his journey with liver disease. Jackie is no stranger to liver disease and the lasting impact that it has, not just on the individual, but on their support system and loved ones around them.

Before her diagnosis, Jackie’s symptoms were first attributed to her need for a gastric bypass, a surgery received before finding out she had PBC. Since her father was first diagnosed, she had made it a priority to book annual bloodwork appointments to check her liver enzymes. Within three months of finding out that her liver enzymes had skyrocketed in 2016, Jackie was already sitting down with a liver specialist.

Within the first year of her diagnosis, Jackie was in the hospital every month with endoscopies to tie off varices and eventually received a TIPS procedure because of a large bleed. This procedure involved inserting a stent to relieve the pressure of blood flowing through the liver to help stop bleeding and fluid back up.

Even while experiencing a heightened sense of emotions, heavy amounts of swelling, and a change in her ability to recall certain things and sometimes confusion, Jackie remains to have a good sense of positivity and lightness to her disease. After talking with her doctor about seeking out a living donor, Jackie is looking ahead in hopes for a better quality of life through a liver transplant.

The effects of chronic liver disease have proved to slow Jackie down in ways she’s never experienced and have made massive changes in her day-to-day life. The real fears surrounding a loss of independence through driving or consistency in her work life are things Jackie shares as worries for the future.

As an advocate for those with liver disease, Jackie strives to share her story in hopes that the more people who are willing to do the same, the greater the chance of enlightening people to sign their donor card and shine a brighter spotlight on liver disease. With a brighter light, Jackie’s hope is that there will be more education for those who might be on the fence about organ donation. With so many individuals living with liver disease and many of them requiring a transplant, Jackie is passionate about donation and the transformative surgeries that save lives every day.

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