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In 1993, Joan and Bill Easton welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world. They were excited to introduce baby Jenna to her four big brothers, hoping—as every parent does—that they would grow up to be close siblings who love and care immensely for each other. It wasn’t until 26 years later that Bill and Joan would witness the full extent of that sibling love.

In her first weeks of life, Jenna remained jaundiced and wasn’t gaining weight. At one month old, she was diagnosed with biliary atresia, which is a blockage in the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder. To help remedy this, Jenna had a procedure to connect the liver to the small intestine, going around the abnormal ducts. Doctors said that she would still very likely need a liver transplant later in life.

Bill, who is a facility maintenance representative at Quinte Health North Hastings Hospital, said that during Jenna’s childhood, she required antibiotic treatment at Sick Kids Hospital every couple of years due to bile backup in her liver that caused scarring. Other than that, she lived a relatively healthy, normal life.

Jenna went on to get married and have a child, but in 2019, at age 26, Jenna’s liver was no longer able to do its job. She needed a transplant. She could wait on the donor list for a liver from a deceased donor, or her family could explore the option of a living, related donor, in which a family member with the same blood type could donate a portion of their liver.

Both Bill and his son, Ryan, were match candidates. Because Ryan was young and likely to recover quickly, Ryan offered to donate part of his liver to his sister.

“It was a build-up of anxiety for us as parents leading up to the surgery, to see two of our kids having surgery at the same time,” said Bill. “But it was a blessing, as well, to see our son step up to potentially save his sister’s life. We are proud of him.”

A young man and woman show their transplant scars on their stomachs.
When Jenna needed a liver transplant, her brother Ryan donated a portion of his. In this photo, they show their scars.

The surgery went well, but a year later, Jenna was getting sick again. Much to their disappointment, Ryan’s donation wasn’t holding up. Jenna required a second transplant surgery. They considered trying a living donor again, but in 2021, the family received notice that a liver match was available from a deceased donor.

Jenna received the transplant and recovered well with the help of her family—particularly her mom, Joan, who is a personal support worker. Nearly three years later, Jenna is doing very well. She’s had a second child and is living happily with her family in Bancroft.

“Praise the Lord,” said Bill. “Because someone had registered to be a donor, Jenna received a second liver transplant. We never found out who that person was, but they saved our daughter’s life. The organ and tissue donation program truly saves lives. We have our daughter and another grandson to prove it.”

Every three days someone dies waiting for a lifesaving organ. One organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of 75 more. Give the gift of life by registering your consent to be an organ and tissue donor: