Cumberland Times-News

Local News

July 15, 2012

Local woman in need of living liver donor

CUMBERLAND — Dennis and Bonnie Shankle celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary on July 10. They would like to celebrate more wedding anniversaries, but a rare disease means that Bonnie now requires 24/7 care and she may not make it to the next anniversary unless a living liver donor can be found soon.

Bonnie was diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrysin disease, an inherited blood disease which causes cirrhosis of the liver. Three of Bonnie’s four siblings have also been diagnosed. Her only hope for a return to health is to find a donor. She has been on the transplant list in Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for two years and her condition continues to deteriorate.

“The last time we were in Pittsburgh she was in the hospital for 10 days and they took 10 liters of fluid” from Bonnie’s body, Dennis Shankle said. The disease has caused Bonnie, who is “only a little woman,” to gain a great deal of weight, Dennis Shankle said.

“We have hopes,” of finding a donor, Shankle said, and one individual has shown interest, but there is no guarantee until a suitable donor willing to do the procedure can be found.

“It takes somebody pretty strong to be willing to do it,’ Dennis Shankle said.

Donors must be in general good health, ages 18-55 and have type A or O blood, positive and negative types are not a factor for the transplant, Dennis Shankle said.

If a donor is not found, she may ultimately be removed from the list as a candidate for a transplant, Dennis Shankle said.

Bonnie Shankle has worked as a secretary for the respiratory therapy department at Allegany College of Maryland and as a sales associate at Sears at the Country Club Mall.

Because of her age and other health issues, including type 2 diabetes, she is low on the transplant list for donations from deceased donors.

The liver though, is a unique organ and can regenerate. A portion of a donor’s organ would grow in Bonnie’s body over a period of a couple of years to normal size and function. The donor’s liver would regenerate to full size in a matter of weeks, Dennis Shankle said.

There are 18,000 people in the United States on the liver transplant list. “There’s a shortage of donors nationwide,” said Dennis Shankle. “Many young people don’t think about it,” he said.

 There are risks to being a living liver donor, although very rare, some donors have complications, according to information from the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute.

To learn more about living liver donation, visit: http:// aspx.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at

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