Inuk woman discharged from hospital after being denied liver transplant due to alcohol use

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – An Inuk activist from Labrador whose struggle with acute liver failure sparked a national discussion about an Ontario transplant policy is being released from hospital in what her friends and family are calling a “Christmas miracle.”

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Twenty-six-year-old Delilah Saunders has been discharged from Toronto General Hospital’s transplant unit and is returning to Newfoundland to recover.

Saunders says she has made a “miraculous” turnaround since being diagnosed with acute liver failure about two weeks ago, and doctors say it doesn’t look like she’ll need a transplant in the immediate future.

READ MORE: Family of woman denied liver transplant watching to see if condition improves

She says she was initially told she was ineligible for an Ontario waiting list because she had not abstained from alcohol for a minimum of six months, but she believes her condition was triggered by a buildup of Tylenol she was taking for jaw pain.

Saunders, who is a prominent activist for Aboriginal women, says she plans to advocate on behalf of other patients who are denied potentially life-saving treatment because of the alcohol-use policy.

READ MORE: Ontario agency hopes to speed project that doesn’t require sobriety for liver transplant

Transplant doctors have cited evidence that some alcoholics return to drinking after a transplant of the organ, and the transplant may not succeed as a result.

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