Shawn Morrissey, 37, from Victoria, Newfoundland, knew from early on that his daughter, Ha-yoon, would not have the healthiest life. She was born with Alagile’s Syndrome, a rare congenital disorder that affects the liver.
On May 13, the 4-year-old went in for a liver transplant at Seoul National University Hospital. Despite having some of the best surgeons in Korea on it, the operation did not go well.
“We’re not really sure yet what happened,” Morrissey says. “It looks like a rare case where the donated liver causes the ammonia levels in the receiver’s body to increase. That can cause the brain to shut down.”
It’s an extremely rare complication that affects fewer than 1 percent of donor recipients in Korea. Ha-yoon has yet to wake up from the operation, and her brain is permanently damaged, though no one knows to what extent.
“Obviously we were devastated,” Morrissey says. “I was confused, I didn’t know how to go about it. There are just those times when sad is just the best word for it. I was terribly sad.”
|Shawn Morrissey reads with his daughter Ha-yoon before the surgery|
Morrissey has temporarily quit work to be with his daughter full-time and help in Ha-yoon’s recovery. Though insurance has paid for the operation and the hospital care, the family still has bills to pay: mortgage, utilities, transportation, food and care for their youngest daughter, Yi-hyun, who just turned 1.
A group of friends are throwing a fund-raiser, “Come Together for the Morrisseys,” at the Whiskey Weasel Pub in Ilsan on Saturday, June 18, to raise money to pay the family’s bills. It will begin at 8 p.m. with a pub quiz, and after 10:30 p.m., DJ’s Hobo D, Disco Stu and Ed Pojang will work the crowd. There will be a darts tournament and an enormous raffle, with prizes from restaurants, bars and other businesses all over Ilsan, Paju and Seoul.
“Shawn has been a part of the expat community here for over 15 years, and has never said ‘no’ when someone else needed him,” says Martyn Thompson, one of the event’s organizers and a close friend of Morrissey. “It’s only natural that we should come together as his expat family to support him in his time of need.”
Meanwhile, Morrissey continues to hold out hope. Only a few hours after the surgery ended, the doctors told him his daughter would die within a day or two. It’s now been almost four weeks, and she continues to stay alive.
“I’m committed to helping my daughter any way I can,” Morrissey says. “I’m not stepping down, I’m not slumping, I’m not going only halfway. There’s a chance she will recover, and I’m taking it. Full on.”
For more information about the fund-raiser, please visit the Event page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/276155622733368 or by searching for “Come Together for the Morrisseys.”
This article was contributed by Dave Hazzan, a writer in Seoul who is helping orgainize fun-raising efforts for Ha-yoon. If you would like more information, would like to donate to the raffle or would like to buy advance raffle tickets, please contact Dave Hazzan at 010-8960-3210 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. - Ed.