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Penticton  

Traveling overseas for a liver

Several fundraising efforts to save a Kaleden man's life are planned for the weeks ahead.

Up until Dec. 16, 2015 – Mike Watson's story was like many others.

Raised in the South Okanagan, he fell in love with his high-school sweetheart, Lisa Needoba, and after university started working in the wine industry in 2001.

Together the couple were busy raising their three children, Aidan, 10, Laila, 7, and Shae, aged 4, who lives with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, the brittle bone disease.

It all changed on one evening in December, Watson suffered a sudden and massive internal hemorrhage and was lucky to survive the night.

And now he waits for a life-saving liver that is not expected to make it to him in time. 

Watson's life expectancy is currently shorter than the time it will take for him to get a new liver in Canada, though he could live a long and healthy life after transplant.

Numerous individuals have begun screening in order to be a live donor for him. The family continues to hope that VGH and the Transplant Society will reverse their policy so he can stay closer to home and get the life-saving surgery he needs.

Watson, who is currently at Penticton Regional Hospital, has been referred by his surgeon for international transplant.  He hopes to travel with his wife and a donor to Hong Kong for the surgery as soon as possible.

The cost of international transplant is between $105,000, and $500,000 depending on the location. This is not covered by BC health.

Nor will their travel or expected three-month recovery. 

On Saturday April 16, the community is invited to “Give and Let Live,” a fundraiser for Mike Watson, with workshops by donation for all ages at Kaleden School, followed by a gala event at the Linden Gardens with dinner, entertainment and an auction.

"Together we can save Mike Watson’s life and lift his family during this time of crisis," said Monique Atherton, a friend of the family.

Other fundraising initiatives benefiting the family include photography mini-sessions by donation on March 5 by Moments under Frame Photography, and golfing by donation at Twin Lakes Golf Course on Sunday, April 17.

Online donations are also being accepted here, where every $25 donated becomes an entry into a draw put forth by Constellation Brands, Hester Creek Winery and Black Hills Winery.

Prizes include the ultimate wine cellar, valued at over $10,000, a weekend at Spirit Ridge Resort, a Hester Creek Villa package and a hot air balloon ride for two.

The British Columbia Hospitality Foundation (BCHF), a made-in-BC and unique to North America charity that provides emergency financial aid to hospitality industry professionals in times of medical need, is matching all funds raised via Watson's YouCaring site up to $7,500 until Feb. 26.

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