Calgary girl receives lifesaving gift from mother’s co-worker

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WATCH: When Ica Malabanan began her second fight with a rare form of liver cancer, her mother's co-workers rallied around the family and raised thousands of dollars to help the family make ends meet. There was one donation, however, that stood out above the rest that had nothing to do with money. Community reporter Deb Matejicka reports – Jul 24, 2019

When Ica Malabanan began a second battle with a rare form of liver cancer called undifferentiated embryonal sarcoma, her mother Mylene took an unpaid leave from her job at Sobeys to be with her daughter.

Ica was going to need a liver transplant and the recovery was expected to take months.

Ica, who was 11 at the time, underwent the transplant operation in November of last year at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. She then spent the next six months recovering there.

In the meantime, Mylene’s co-workers had rallied around the family and managed to raise nearly $20,000 to help make ends meet while the pair called Edmonton home.

When Global News first covered this story, it wasn’t known that one of Mylene’s co-workers had made the biggest donation of all and it had nothing to do with money.

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READ MORE: Calgary community rallies around family of sick girl

“I donated my liver to my friend’s daughter,” said Kathy Shirley, a 33-year-old fellow Sobeys employee.

“It was kind of a no-brainer for me. She’s a kid, she’s sick and I have what she needs,” said Shirley, who faced complications post surgery that included two serious infections.

It took Shirley nearly three months to recover but she says she wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again.

“Honestly, to see her is overwhelming,” she said.

“Going from looking so sick… she had no hair, and seeing her now — she’s healthy, she’s smiling,” Shirley said. “Her hair is gorgeous — her hair is super gorgeous — and yeah, it just warms my heart.

“It’s like, it makes everything just completely worth it to see her.”

News of Shirley’s donation came to light when Global News learned she had recently been nominated for a national award within her company. In Ica’s eyes, however, Shirley is already a winner.

“She’s a hero,” said the soft-spoken Ica.

“It’s unbelievable… that she [could] have a heart like that,” said Mylene, who added that she and Shirley talk almost daily via text.
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“She’s… our family now.”

There are only a few organs that living donors can donate, with part of the liver being one of them.  Shirley didn’t have her organ donor card signed before but says she now does.

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