Comedian Mike MacDonald makes plea for liver donor
Published Wednesday, May 23, 2012 6:48PM EDT
Comedian Mike MacDonald has never been one to ask for help. But after being diagnosed with hepatitis C and seeing his condition worsen in just a few months, he's taken his search for a living liver donor public.
After setting up a website and a Facebook page, MacDonald has been overwhelmed by the amount of support he's received in his quest for a donor, with dozens of people pitching into a fund to help him offset the costs of the transplant.
In just a few short weeks, more than $33,000 of MacDonald's goal of $35,000 has been raised, and MacDonald is promising that any money that is left over is going to go to the Canadian Liver Foundation.
"I can't help but feel good. It's reconfirmed my faith in humanity and given me the compassion to say: I'm not going to turn my back on this gift, if I get it. I'm going to pass it forward," MacDonald told CTV's Canada AM From Ottawa Wednesday.
The 56-year-old says if he can get through this medical crisis, he's going to become a motivational speaker and work with the Liver Foundation to preach about organ donation and how easy it is to acquire hepatitis C.
MacDonald found out only last year that he had hep C. It was his wife who noticed things weren't right. The comedian was lethargic, dropping glasses, tripping, all of which was uncharacteristic for him.
A few blood tests at the doctor's office later and he had his diagnosis.
MacDonald says he'll never know for sure how he contracted hepatitis. While he's been open about his past struggles with heroin and cocaine, he's not convinced he picked up the virus through needles. He's also had a few blood transfusions and unprotected sex – which are other ways to contract it.
How he got hepatitis doesn't matter anymore anyway, MacDonald says; what's more important is that he now needs help.
After initially being told that his prognosis was good, he recently contracted an infection that was so severe that his doctors said he needs a liver transplant as soon as possible. In fact, if he waits for a donation from a deceased donor, it will likely take more than two years. And MacDonald doesn't have that much time.
So now, MacDonald needs someone to donate a part of their liver in hopes that it will bring his liver back into shape. None of his family members are able to donate, because of their own medical issues, so MacDonald has had to go public for help.
He's posted a letter on Facebook called "A Message From Mike," telling his whole story so that people could understand why he needs a donor.
"It's not like you're bumming a quarter. People had a right to know what the situation is as much as could concisely put it into a message. So that's what I did. I think it was one of the hardest writing assignments I've ever done," he says.
The response was immediate -- something MacDonald admits he wasn't prepared for.
"I had no idea I'd get this overwhelming response. I mean, I can dream with the best of them, but I never dreamed it would be like this," he says.
MacDonald knows finding a donor won't be easy. The ideal candidate will need to be in excellent health and have "O negative" blood type; one of the rarer forms in Canada. But MacDonald is feeling positive and is focusing on what's ahead.
"I was feeling pretty down when this whole thing started, but I've started to write jokes again," he says. "I just can't help it with all the positive love and caring that has come my way."