SHANLY - Seven weeks ago, a Shanly dairy farmer went under the knife and made a sacrifice for his son that will change his life. And now, after only a few minor setbacks, Elwyn Millar and his son, Shawn, are getting ready to come home after doctors at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital transplanted one of Elwyn's kidneys in his son
Shawn suffers from a rare, hereditary condition, Alport Syndrome, and has been on dialysis for more than a year.
The syndrome was passed on by one of his parents through an auto-recessive gene and is usually harder on males. His sister, Kathy, has also been diagnosed with the condition but has not been affected by it so far.
Though the operation comes after a trial of postponements and delays, it is only the beginning for the family. With any transplant, there is a continuous threat the body will reject a new organ and the situation is very real for Shawn.
Three weeks ago, he and his father returned home for a weekend but went back shortly after their arrival so Shawn could undergo more tests at the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto where the operation took place.
But Shawn didn't do well on the tests and about two weeks ago, a few days following his return to the hospital, he fell ill with a fever and an infection, said Shawn's mother, Linda. The doctors were afraid his young body might be rejecting the kidney, but the infection turned out to be caused by a dialysis line that was still inside him.
'They took it out, which he doesn't mind because he never liked it anyway,' she said. 'Now he's excited because he can go back to swimming next summer. You see, he couldn't get wet but now that he has a new kidney, he doesn't have to go through dialysis any more.'
Shawn has since been put on antibiotics and is doing much better, Linda says.
'They should be coming home any day now. When they were home a few weeks ago, Elwyn went back to work but right now he is with Shawn. The hospital has been terrific. They're very supportive. It seems like the worst is over. We're considering it a success. Shawn seems healthy. He's full of life and he's gained weight.'
After he comes home, Shawn will have to visit CHEO twice a week for blood tests and won't be able to go to school until January.
'He'll hate that,' his mother jokes. 'We're quite relieved that everything went so well.'