He had made waves last year for apparently recovering from a quadruple transplant, done all at once. But the 19-year-old Gairett MacIver died on Sunday at Vancouver General Hospital after about of pneumonia.
It was in August 2006 that MacIver, hailing from the British Columbian province of Canada underwent a four-organ transplant at Toronto General Hospital. During the surgery, he received a new liver, pancreas, stomach and bowel, and also had his spleen and gall bladder removed.
AdvertisementMacIver suffered from a rare condition where blood vessels in his bowels would not only bleed, but also damage his other organs. His father Bill said Sunday the 19-year-old simply had too many complications to overcome. When doctors told Bill and Lori, Gairett's mother, that their son was unable to overcome all the complications of the disease, "we agreed on a plan to remove the support that was holding Gairett alive."
"The dialysis machine was removed and we gathered close when Gairett started to breathe on his own. He only lasted 10 minutes until the strain of breathing became too much and he simply stopped breathing," said Bill. "He was in no pain and he looked at peace. "It was right because Gairett had battled enough. It was time to give him a rest. He had long battled and had not really had much of a life for the past three years. He had never complained or whined and he never lost the fight.
Health problems for Gairett began in 2001 with an unknown condition that caused a series of broken legs. Doctors figured the mysterious condition involved an arterial veneous malformation in the bowel that would bleed out, causing damage to his stomach and liver. On Aug.1, 2006, he received a new liver, pancreas, stomach and bowel during a 12-hour surgery requiring a team of more than eight specialists at Toronto General Hospital.
Doctors held out little hope that he would survive the operation, and when he did, his miraculous story went around the world. "You're slowly getting stronger and you realize 'I can make it through this,' and then as you keep pushing, you're able to walk a little bit, eat a little bit, and you realize that you made it through it ...," he said in a TV interview at the time.
"The fact that he's recovering so quickly and nicely, I think it's been really surprising the doctors ...," said Lori MacIver, his mother. "I want him to start living the life that a teenager should be living, and I just want to get back to home and start our normal life again, whatever normal is anymore," she had added longingly then.
But it was not to be. This spring he spent more than a month in Vancouver receiving treatment for graft versus host disease, a common side effect of transplants that, in Gairett's case, caused a rash. He had just arrived home when he was hit hard by pneumonia and was taken back to Vancouver General on May 17, where he remained in intensive care, till the end came.