Death, extortion and hope: 1 man's fight for a new liver

CBC NEWS  | Toronto  | Ali Chaisson

In Ontario, 220 people are waiting for a new liver. Arch Walsh of Mississauga is one of them. (Tina McKenzie/CBC )
In Ontario, someone dies every three days while waiting for an organ transplant. About 220 people are waiting for a new liver and Arch Walsh of Mississauga is one of them.

Walsh had hoped a living donor might come forward, but that prospect dimmed when someone who was a match backed out, after demanding financial compensation.

"I can barely rest," said Walsh, who looks like a shell of the tall, husky man he was — until last December when he got sick.

"My bones rub together when I sleep," he told CBC Toronto.

Walsh has Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), a condition where fatty deposits inside the liver become inflamed, causing the organ to scar and enlarge. NASH is a more severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and can develop, as with Walsh's case, into cirrhosis. By Stage 4, the damage is irreversible. Walsh's liver is operating at 20 per cent.
A brush with death 

Every two weeks Walsh goes to Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga to have a catheter stuck into his distended, water-filled abdomen to drain the fluids. It has to be done carefully, so his bowel and other organs won't be punctured. 

"My abdomen just started swelling to the point where it looked like I was nine months pregnant," Walsh said as he described the first time he landed in the emergency room last December. Continue reading