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Liver transplant recipient celebrates one year anniversary

January 15 is an important anniversary for Elizabeth (Beth) Cassidy as it marks one year that she was given the gift of life. The 49-year-old went into liver failure in December 2018 as a result of a rare genetic condition called Wilson disease, which causes excessive amounts of copper to accumulate and poison the body. Medication kept her alive, but Cassidy required a donor. After no family members qualified to be a living donor, Cassidy used the media to make a plea and one person stepped forward last December to save Cassidy’s life. The donor, who has remained anonymous until now, is Stacey Wagler, a school teacher from St. Mary School in Massey. Cassidy said she first met Wagler when she was doing a college placement at the school 12 years ago and her son Scotty later had her as a teacher. “When I met her I instantly liked her,” said Cassidy who described Wagler as helpful, friendly and approachable. The liver recipient said she got a message from Wagler in the summer of 2019 asking what her blood type was and that she was looking into applying to be a donor for her after seeing Cassidy’s pleas for a living donor in the newspaper. Cassidy did not hear from her again until Wagler reached out to her in December 2019. “Two weeks before Christmas in 2019 she messaged me and asked how I’d been doing and asked to visit with me,” said Cassidy. During the visit, Cassidy mentioned to Wagler that she had been booked for an ultrasound in Toronto and was not sure what it was about. According to Cassidy, Wagler said, ‘It’s probably because you and me are both going to be on the operating table on Jan. 15.’ “My heart stopped and I nearly fainted,” said Cassidy about Wagler who was found to be a perfect match. Cassidy said she messages Wagler every month on the 15th to say how grateful she is. “I’m completely lost for words… to go through what she went through was a huge sacrifice. It’s not just lending a hand. It’s being opened up on an operating table and giving me a piece of a major organ.” Wagler, who did not want any publicity, had only shared her story with the Huron Superior Catholic District School Board in May to thank them for their support. In a brief message to this reporter, Wagler said, “As I approach our one year anniversary, I am feeling honoured and humbled by God’s timing. Although I am still not comfortable talking about myself, it is a good news story and we need more of those.” Cassidy referred to Wagler’s gift of life as “incredible, especially now with all the craziness in the world going on, I just bring myself back to that. Obviously, everyday I’m filled with gratitude, but to think there are people out there who are willing to go that far to help is a great ray of hope at all times.” As for Wagler’s recovery, Cassidy said her liver was completely healed. “The liver transplant team said it’s unremarkable. I guess that’s the term they use if there’s nothing abnormal after it heals and I say it’s totally remarkable. She’s all healed up and doing fantastic.” Cassidy had her last online appointment with her transplant team was in December and now goes for bloodwork every two months. “Everything is looking good,” Cassidy said, though she remains on a high dose of immunosuppression drugs. She continues to be very cautious throughout the pandemic and has been told to do so by her doctor. “I met someone over the Internet who had Wilson’s disease and a liver transplant, a young person who caught COVID-19 and did really well with it, but still, I’m scared because it affects individuals differently,” said Cassidy. As a transplant recipient, Cassidy said she is not yet eligible yet for the COVID-19 vaccine. “There’s absolutely no data on immunosuppressed people or people with transplants.” Cassidy is aware that some transplant recipients in the United States are being immunized against the virus, but is waiting to see some data. “I heard John Hopkins Hospital in the U.S.A. is doing studies now so hopefully there will be answers soon.” With regards to how new the vaccine is and how quickly it was developed, Cassidy said, “I think most people are a bit nervous about the vaccine.” Cassidy said she thinks about being vaccinated “so I won’t be afraid of going out anymore, but… I think I’m going to err on the side of caution and see what my transplant team thinks when there is a bit of data.” “I’m hoping it will work out well. It’s just a wait and see,” she added.

3 days ago News
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High number of new COVID-19 cases: APH delays return to in-class learning for Sault Ste. Marie high school students

With 47 active cases in the region, Algoma Public Health announced that a return to in-class learning will be delayed for high school students in Sault Ste. Marie and area. APH issued instructions and recommendations to all school boards that serve the Algoma district in a press release last Friday. For high schools (Grades 9 to 12) in Sault Ste. Marie, these instructions mean that there will be a delay of in-person learning until at least Jan. 25. Those with special education needs who require in-person learning may continue to be accommodated. For Sault Ste. Marie elementary schools, and all other schools outside of Sault Ste. Marie throughout Algoma, based on strong recommendations from APH, school boards will provide parents and students with the choice of online/remote or in-person learning. Those who are able, can choose to continue school remotely for the time being. For students and families with learning, health, essential work, or other needs, in-person learning will be available. “COVID-19 activity is not the same throughout the north, nor throughout Algoma,” said Dr. Jennifer Loo, Medical Officer of Health with Algoma Public Health. Loo said, “In local areas where there has been an increase in COVID-19 activity, there is a vital need to keep strong preventive measures in place. At the same time, we must work together to minimize impacts on student learning, to support the school community, and to support families and essential worker parents, who depend on in-person learning, and whose essential work is critical to the pandemic response.” The health unit has announced 47 new cases in the region since Jan. 4, as well as another outbreak at a nursing home. On Jan. 4, APH reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 in Sault Ste. Marie and area. Cases 82 to 92 are the result of close contact and are self-isolating. Additionally, anyone who travelled on Dec. 30, 2020 on the fights below, in the indicated rows should contact Algoma Public Health or their local public health unit. Air Canada flight 8498 from Windsor to Toronto, passengers in rows three to nine and flight crew that may have served these rows are considered close contacts. Air Canada flight 8321, Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie, passengers in rows three to seven and flight crew that may have served these rows are considered close contacts. The 11 new cases, all the result of close contact, were announced after APH advised the public of a potential high-risk exposure to COVID-19 gathering that occurred on Dec. 31, 2020. Anyone who attended the gathering at 66 Sage Street, in Garden River, ON was advised to immediately self-isolate and contact the health unit. “Though this increase in numbers is alarming, we as a community need to recommit to following public health guidance during this pandemic,” said Loo. She said that indoor organized public events and social gatherings are not permitted except with the members of the same household and trips for necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments and supporting vulnerable community members should be limited. “If you know of someone who is vulnerable, or who needs to isolate and stay home, reach out to offer help with essentials, or connect with them to offer social support by phone or online.” Cases 93 and 94, announced on Jan. 5, are from Sault Ste. Marie and area. The two cases are the result of close contact and are self-isolating. Ten new cases, all from Sault Ste. Marie and area, were announced by APH on Jan. 6. Cases 95 to 97 are the result of close contact while case 98 is of unknown exposure. Cases 99 to 102 are the result of close contact while case 103 is of unknown exposure. Case 104 is the result of close contact and all 10 cases are self-isolating. Also, anyone who travelled on Dec. 28, 2020, on Air Canada flight AC 8325 from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie, passengers in rows three to nine and flight crew that may have served these rows are considered close contacts and should contact their local health unit. An outbreak was declared by APH at Great Northern Retirement Home (GNRH) in Sault Ste. Marie on Jan. 7 following the confirmation of COVID-19 in one staff member. APH is working closely with GNRH’s care team to take further preventive actions to protect staff and residents. At this time, the staff member remains in isolation to prevent further transmission. Surveillance testing of GNRH staff and residents is in the process of being completed. This is the second long-term care home to have an outbreak. An outbreak was declared at Extendicare Maple View on Dec. 31 after two employees tested positive for COVID-19. Surveillance testing for that facility was completed and all tests on residents came back negative. “Every community member has a role to play when it comes to protecting our residents and staff in long-term care homes and retirement homes,” said Loo. “Evidence shows as that the higher the cases in the surrounding the community, the higher the chances of transmission that could lead to a long-term care or retirement home outbreak.” Six new cases of COVID-19 were announced on Jan. 7, all from Sault Ste. Marie and area. Cases 105 and 106 are the result of close contact while case 107 is of unknown contact. Cases 108 to 110 are all the result of close contact and all new cases are self-isolating. On Jan. 8, APH announced eight new cases, six of which are from Sault Ste. Marie and area and two are from Central and East Algoma. Case 111 is unknown exposure while cases 112 to 118 are the result of close contact. All are self-isolating. APH reported three new cases in Sault Ste. Marie and area on Jan. 9. Case 119 and 121 are of close contacts while case 120 is unknown, and all new cases are self-isolating. On. Jan. 10, APH announced seven new cases – six from Sault Ste. Marie and area and one from Central and East Algoma. Cases 122, 123 127 and 128 are due to close contact while cases 124 to 126 are unknown exposure, and are self-isolating. As of Jan. 11, there were 46 (plus one case from outside of the district) active cases in Algoma. Eighty-two of 128 cases have been resolved. There have been 118 cases in Sault Ste. Marie and area and eight in Central and East Algoma. The remainder have been from Elliot Lake and area. There have been no cases in North Algoma.

3 days ago News

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