2017-08-31 / News

Local man saved by daughter-in-law’s liver donation

Aleshia and her father-in-law Mark Wheeler 
Photo provided Aleshia and her father-in-law Mark Wheeler Photo provided DAVISON — Aleshia Wheeler and her family know the meaning of the Gift of Life firsthand. Her father-in-law, Mark, a Davison resident, was waiting for a liver transplant, and Aleshia, his daughter-in-law and a clerk at the Lapeer County Plus Secretary of State branch office, was able to help save his life.

Mark was placed on the transplant waiting list in 2013 because an auto-immune disease had destroyed his liver. He was called in twice for a potential transplant from a deceased donor, but each time the transplant didn’t occur for various reasons. After a year on the waitlist, Mark’s daughter Robin decided to get tested as a living liver donor. Although she was a match, her liver was not large enough for Mark. So Aleshia got tested and found out she also was a good match for Mark.

In March 2015, she donated 70 percent of her liver to Mark at Henry Ford Hospital’s Transplant Institute in Detroit. Living donor liver transplants are much less common than living donor kidney transplants, and they are done by “splitting” the liver so the organ can function in both the donor and recipient.

Left to right, Michael Wheeler, Mark Wheeler Sr. (center), and Mark Wheeler Jr. 
Photo provided Left to right, Michael Wheeler, Mark Wheeler Sr. (center), and Mark Wheeler Jr. Photo provided “I never gave it a second thought to help my father-in-law,” Aleshia says. “It is so great to see my father-in-law have made more memories with his children and all of his grandchildren.”

Aleshia and her husband, Michael, also live in Davison and have three children: Caroline, 9, Declan, 3, and Oliver, who is eight months old. She has worked at the Lapeer County SOS branch office for five years and knows the importance of asking customers if they’d like to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

Aleshia had also seen the benefits of donation from the unexpected loss of her brother-in-law, Mark Wheeler Jr., who was in a fatal car accident in 2005. They donated his organs to help save and heal lives. “Our family knows what it truly means to give the gift of life,” Aleshia says. “We hope to share our story and inform more people about all the benefits of donation.”

Anyone can join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, regardless of age or medical history. SOS clerks across the state provide hope to the roughly 3,500 people in Michigan waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. They are the key to saving lives.

For more information about organ, tissue and eye donation, contact Kim Zasa at Gift of Life Michigan, kzasa@giftoflifemichigan.org or 866-500- 5801, ext. 1042. — P.S.

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