Natalie Williams, right, is fundraising for a life-saving transplant. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Natalie Williams, right, is fundraising for a life-saving transplant. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

19-year-old Cowichan woman needs cash for life-saving surgery

Natalie Williams is close to having a life-saving liver transplant in Vancouver.

But the 19 year-old Cowichan Valley resident and her family need to raise almost $15,000 to cover the costs of the mandatory requirement of having one of her parents live near Vancouver General Hospital for three months after the operation, and other costs not covered under her medical insurance.

Williams explained that her operation will be risky, and the hospital requires that a parent or caregiver be close by in case there are complications after surgery.

Williams was diagnosed with the life-threatening liver disease biliary atresia as a child and has been on a transplant list, in which she has been bumped near the top as her medical situation becomes more dire, for a new liver for some time.

Biliary atresia results from a blockage of the bile duct, which is the pipe that drains bile, a fluid that helps with digestion, from the liver into the intestine.

Biliary atresia is the most common cause for death among infants and children with liver disease, and the leading indication for liver transplants in these age groups, accounting for more than 60 per cent of all pediatric liver transplants in Canada.

At just 10 weeks old, Williams underwent a major operation to try and deal with the disease and it saved her life at the time, but she has been in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices ever since dealing with complications of the disease and now requires a liver transplant.

If her upcoming liver transplant is successful, she should be able to live a full and fairly healthy life,

But the family must raise the $15,000 before the process can move forward and a private fundraiser is planned for April 7.

Anyone from the public wishing to assist Williams can contribute to Const. Krista Hobday at the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment.