'Basically strangers': Calgarian receiving liver donation from co-worker she barely knew
A Calgary woman says she's not only being gifted with a life-saving organ donation from her co-worker, but also a powerful new friendship.
Though Karla Frisko and Scott Watson work together, Frisko admits the pair were "basically strangers" when Watson offered to give her a donation she'd been desperately searching for.
For the last six years, Frisko has been battling primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare liver disease that attacks bile ducts.
She's been on the transplant list since July 2021, but says her procedure isn't considered enough of a priority to make her eligible for a deceased donor's organ.
As such, the Calgary woman had to ask friends and family if they'd be willing to donate. Though Frisko says many of them offered to help, they were all ruled out of the process for various reasons.
Frisko says it was last year that Watson made the offer.
"It was the day that my childhood friend went to Edmonton for her last phase of (eligibility) testing and was told she was disqualified from the process," she told CTV News. "One hour later, I had a work conversation with Scott. I apologized to him and said, 'sorry, I'm a little bit bummed out, but this is what I'm going through.'"
Watson, who was still new to the position, had never chatted with Frisko one-on-one before, but says something about the way she spoke made him want to step up.
"Karla just made a huge impression on me when she told me her story," he said. "I had this overwhelming feeling when we were talking that I should go and get tested.
"It was warmth from head to toe."
As it turns out, Watson is one of a handful of willing and eligible donors who can provide Frisko with a liver. After months of testing and anticipation, the duo will finally go under the knife Monday in Edmonton.
"I'm typically an individual who doesn't like to ask for help, but when you're put into a situation and you can't save yourself, you have no option but to ask," Frisko said. "This means that I can potentially get my life back. So it means the world to me."
As to why he felt compelled to help someone that he barely knew, Watson says sometimes he just knows to take a chance.
"I will be forever changed going through this process and doing this for someone else," he said. "Having the ability to do a selfless act like this for someone who is in need and giving them life is something that you can't take away.
"When you really strip away all of the white noise in the world, that is truly what we're here to do."
The pair have since become close friends.
They've spent time together driving to appointments and catching up virtually during the pandemic.
They both say they're excited to help each other during what is sure to be a long recovery.
"As humans, we need to be here to support one another, whether you know each other or not," Watson said. "I can't tell her enough how amazing I think she is to be able to live through this disease and come out on top and still be smiling."
And to Frisko, the donation is only part of what Watson is offering her.
"Hope. Hope is something that I have not felt in so long. He has given me hope."
The donation will be in collaboration with the Living Donor program.
Watson is documenting the process online.
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