10 Feb 16

February 10, 2016

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Russell girl in desperate need of liver transplant

Candice Vetter

Villager Staff

RUSSELL — An eight-year-old Russell girl, Gianna-Lynn Favilla, needs a liver transplant and her family is asking for the public’s help to find a suitable donor.

Gianna has two diseases compromising her health, Crohn’s disease and primary sclerosing cholangitis, resulting in scarring which has clogged her bile ducts leading to severe liver damage. Liver transplants can be given by living donors — a small section of liver is removed and transplanted in the recipient’s body to grow and take over the functions of the damaged liver.

Friends and relatives have not been appropriate matches, so her parents, Chris and Sue Favilla, decided they needed to issue an appeal. Friends Tami-Lynn Caloia and Natalie Armstrong have launched a Facebook page called Gianna-Lynn, age 8, needs a liver transplant, to broaden the search.

Until two years ago Gianna led the active life typical of a little girl, but she is now in a desperate health situation. She can’t go to school, eats through a feeding tube, and can’t play outside.

Members of the public considering donating (which requires major surgery, a five- to seven-day hospital stay and two months recovery time) must have type O blood, be between the ages of 18-55, be in good health, and must fax a health history form to Toronto General Hospital’s Living Donor Assessment Office at 416-340-4317.

Information about living donor transplants is available at the hospital’s website. Google Toronto General living donor to find the links.

The family has also had significant expenses, as Gianna is frequently in the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, so a crowdsource fundraiser to help provide financial support has also been launched at go.fundme.com/2cn26anx.

Expenses include medications, medical supplies, nutritional supplements, food and transportation costs for trips to hospital in Toronto, incidentals to help lessen Gianna’s discomfort, and of course lost income to the family.

There has been widespread interest in the story including support from donor-liver-recipient and Ottawa Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk, who tweeted, “#Sens Army, please read this and retweet to friends to help sweet little Gianna-Lynn find a new liver. #beadonor http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ottawa-area-girl-in-desperate-need-of-a-liver-transplant …”

To date, a suitable donor has not been found.