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After 2 liver transplants Kelowna resident urges living organ donations

B.C. broke records for organ donation in 2023
Liver donor Letecia Hayes (left), two-time liver recipient Matt Scaife (centre), and kidney donor Stacy Rodriguez at BC Cancer Kelowna spreading the word for National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month. (Brittany Webster/Capital News)

Two-time liver recipient Matt Scaife is encouraging British Columbians to register as an organ donor this April for National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month.

Scaife was diagnosed at 29 with a rare auto-immune liver disease. After about a decade, symptoms worsened and Scaife found himself being assessed for a transplant.

“At that time I was really, really sick. They put me on the waitlist and at that time they sort of figured I had about six months to live, give or take.” Less than five months later Scaife received his first transplant in April 2000.

The Kelowna man explained what it was like to get that call.

“When they phone you they start out with this whole long spiel like, ‘Hi, how are you feeling today?’ because they have to make sure you’re not ill… I answer all this stuff and it’s ‘no, I’m fine. No, I’m fine.’ ‘OK, we have a liver for you and the ambulance is going to come to your house and pick you up in half an hour to go to Vancouver to have surgery and then stay for three months.”

Scaife said it was surreal, and he sat at the kitchen table stunned and unsure what to do until his then-wife finally got his attention.

Surgery went well and Scaife had 15 great years with the new liver before the symptoms returned.

“I became quite sick again, not as sick but enough symptoms that I wasn’t able to work or function readily on a daily basis.”

In October 2020, Scaife got the second call for a third chance at life.

“To literally have your life back, to be saved twice in your life I can’t even honestly put it into words.”

Scaife took the time on April 16 to spread awareness of organ donation in the lobby of BC Cancer Kelowna. The recipient was joined by two life savers.

Stacy Rodriguez is a living kidney donor.

“I had always heard about living donation. I had registered to be a deceased organ donor, and living donation is just something I’d thought about for years.”

When Rodriguez came across a Facebook post of a young father in need of a transplant. The post pulled at her heartstrings and she began the testing process to become a living donor.

“I think the scariest part of the testing would be finding out I wouldn’t be able to go through with the surgery at the end.”

The donor later met the man who received one of her kidneys. She said his family has become an extended part of her own.

Through the process, Rodriguez had support from friend Letecia Hayes who felt inspired to become a living donor herself.

Hayes travelled to Toronto this past November for surgery to donate about 70 per cent of her liver to someone she has never met.

“I felt very proud knowing that I was able to save someone’s life and it’s still cool to think about,” Hayes said, adding that she has gotten updates the recipient is doing well.

Despite all the travel and time off work, Hayes said she was able to utilize a lot of resources to have nearly everything compensated. “A lot of funding was through Hope Air which is a company that provides travel assistance and hotels.”

Hayes said the application process to become a donor was simple, filling out a form and submitting it to a team in Toronto. She said she felt taken care of along the way as medical professionals determined if she was healthy and able to donate.

Scaife praised Rodriguez and Hayes for their bravery but said unfortunately in his case his donors were at the end of their lives.

“You’re far more likely to need a transplant than you are of ever becoming an organ donor,” Scaife said, adding only about 1 per cent of deaths result in organ donation.

The two-time recipient is urging people to register as an organ donor, or register to not be one, but don’t leave it to question when you’re at the end of the line.

“If you don’t sign up on the registry your family has to make all those decisions at the worst possible time,” Scaife said, “because if you become eligible for transplant as a donor a team will have to come and ask them what they would like to do. Do you want your family to have to make that decision while they’re also thinking about the loss of you?”

BC Transplant reported a record-breaking 563 people received a transplant in 2023. Donations came from 160 deceased and 77 living donors.

Learn more about organ donation or register by visiting

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Brittany Webster

About the Author: Brittany Webster

I am a video journalist based in Kelowna and capturing life in the Okanagan
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