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Ontario woman given second chance at life after local organ donor comes forward

Cobourg mother in desperate need of live organ donor
WATCH ABOVE: Leanne Yagrines was diagnosed with liver failure from cirrhosis in September 2018. The 45-year-old wife and mother of two from Cobourg, Ontario is now in desperation for a live liver donor. Morgan Campbell has more on Leanne's story. (July 18)

A Cobourg, Ont., woman has a little something to be extra thankful for this year after a live organ donor came forward to help save her life.

“It’s hard to believe I deserve it. There’s so many people out there that need it,” explained Leanne Yargrines as she wipes away her tears.

“It was just a miracle. I remember just looking at Rob and saying, ‘Wow, there’s people out there like that.'”

READ MORE: Cobourg woman seeks live organ donor

Yargrines was first diagnosed with liver failure due to cirrhosis in September 2018. In mid-June, Yagrines’ transplant team at Toronto General Hospital encouraged her to look for a live liver donor.

The family took to social media to spread the word, and at least 100 people came forward to see if they were a match. The news spread widely in the small town of less than 20,000.

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“It was unbelievable. The reality is we had people globally wanting to contribute and help out and then to find out it was someone within our own county in Northumberland that came forward that somehow knew Leanne from high school from way back when,” explained Leanne’s husband Rob.

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“It was almost like we were in disbelief.”

Last month, Yargrines received the new liver and spent 18 days in hospital recovering. She’s only been home a mere eight days and is already puttering around the kitchen and out visiting with friends and family. She said it was something important to her as she’s spent so much time on the sidelines, sick and unable to participate with her family.

“I know that every single time I wake up now I’m better and I’m getting closer to being me again,” said Yargrines.

“[The donor] is my sister now, her family is my family, and blood doesn’t matter when it comes to these types of things. She’s in me. For her to just do this — to save my life — so I can have a second chance.”

Rob said has already noticed a huge difference in his wife. The pair have been married for 19 years and have two children, 20-year-old Rory and 16-year-old Jade.

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“She has a lot more energy, especially in the morning. She’s not waking up out of that cloud that she called it and she’s more independent and has the desire to get up and go,” he said while looking affectionately at his wife.

“It’s just been nice to see her get back on her feet and start looking forward to a nice positive future and a happy one.”

Yargrines and her donor are newfound friends. Melanie White lives in nearby Brighton and actually attended the same high school as Leanne, although she’s a few years younger than the 45-year-old mother of two.

READ MORE: Here’s how organ donation works in Canada

The entire ordeal has pushed the Yargrines family to encourage others to consider registering to be a donor. According to Ontario’s Trillium Gift of Life Network, only 34 per cent of Ontario residents are registered donors, which represents 4.3 million people out of an eligible 12.6 million.

Earlier this year, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to implement presumed consent for organ and tissue donation. People are able to opt out, but the onus is on them to do so.

“If you’re already gone, why not give someone that gift?” said Yargrines.