Kidney transplant recipient from Osoyoos recovering well after his recent surgery

By on December 5, 2017

Matt Hassen is recovering well in Vancouver one month after undergoing a kidney transplant. His good friend Josh Hackett donated one of his kidneys to Hassen. (Richard McGuire file photo)

One month after undergoing a life-changing kidney transplant, a popular Osoyoos bartender is making a strong recovery and should be able to return home to Osoyoos by the end of January.

On Nov. 8, Matthew Hassen, 38, received a kidney from his good friend Josh Hackett at Vancouver General Hospital.

The surgery went off without a hitch and his son is recovering in a downtown Vancouver apartment that is rented out specifically to kidney transplant patients recovering from surgery, said Hassen’s father Mat.

“Everything considered, he’s doing very well,” said Hassen. “He’s very tired, but that’s to be expected after surgery like this, and he sleeps a lot, but he’s doing well.”

Like all kidney transplant patients at Vancouver General, Hassen must remain in Vancouver for a minimum of three months so doctors can monitor his recovery. Matthew has been asked to attend the hospital every Tuesday and Friday for five hours each visit to conduct lab test and ensure his recovery continues, said Hassen.

The best news is Matthew, who has been on a kidney transplant waiting list for several years, showed no signs of rejecting his new kidney and had improved health within hours of surgery, said Hassen.

“His new kidney started functioning immediately,” he said. “The doctors and medical staff were very pleased that things went so well.”

As with all kidney transplant patients, the most difficult side effect following surgery is extreme fatigue, which is expected to last several more weeks, said Hassen.

“He tires very easily, but that’s to be expected,” he said. “Because he’s so tired, he needs someone there with him to make sure all of his needs are being taken care of and ensure he’s taking all of the medications he needs during his recovery.”

Hassen just returned to Osoyoos late last week after spending several weeks taking care of his son.

When he’s not there, Matthew’s girlfriend Caitlyn Bates has travelled from Osoyoos to Vancouver to take care of him, he said.

On Jan. 9, Hassen will return to Vancouver and will spend two or three more weeks with Matthew and hopes to bring him back to Osoyoos by late January, he said.

Matthew will stay with his mother (Evelyn) and father for several more weeks after his return to Osoyoos and the hope is he’ll be able to get back out on his own and back to his job as a bartender at The Owl Pub by the end of winter or early spring, he said.

When he does return to Osoyoos, he will have to attend regular medical checkups at a kidney monitoring program in Penticton, he said.

Money raised at a fundraiser to support Matthew at The Owl Pub in October was a great success and has allowed his son to not worry about his finances while recovering from surgery, said Hassen.

“The financial and moral support he’s received from this community has been tremendous and a real boon for him during his recovery,” he said. “I know he can’t wait to get back home to Osoyoos and thank everyone again who helped him.”

Hackett, who met Matthew while bartending at a pub in Penticton, is also doing well after surgery, said Hassen.

“He felt so good after surgery that he was able to visit Matthew in his room only a few hours after surgery,” he said. “The surgery took place on Wednesday and he was released from the hospital on Friday morning.

“Josh is back in Penticton and we’re staying in regular touch with him because he made an incredibly generous, life-altering decision to help our son and we want to keep that connection with him.”

Since receiving his new kidney, Matthew has been able to eat a lot of different kinds of food he couldn’t handle before surgery, said Hassen.

“He’s able to eat things like pizza … which he simply couldn’t before,” he said.

Even though Matthew won’t be home for Christmas, his family has already received the best Christmas gift they could ever ask for, said Hassen.

“We’ve received the best Christmas gift we could ever imagine with our son on the road to recovery,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for any better Christmas gift.”

The Hassen house in Osoyoos is usually lit up with hundreds of Christmas lights over the holiday season, however, because he’s spent so much time in Vancouver taking care of his son, that annual ritual will take one year off, he said.

“We’re going to have to pass on the Christmas decorations this time around,” he said.

Hassen said his son’s surgery and recovery is a glowing example of how organ donation can change and save lives.

“If it wasn’t for the fact Matthew was fortunate enough to find an organ donor, we didn’t know what the future held,” he said. “Hopefully his case is a reminder that there are a lot of other people out there in desperate need to find a donor.

“I want people to be aware organ donation is life saving and it’s important.”


Osoyoos Times

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