I was a hospital kid.
It started at 15 months when I developed rheumatoid arthritis, and for years I was in and out of treatment at SickKids.
Then at 16, I began experiencing severe abdominal pain, fatigue and memory lapses.
The diagnosis was Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a rare, chronic autoimmune disease where the liver can’t process the body’s toxins because of clogging in the bile ducts.
It’s a monstrous condition that also gave me pain, brain fog, infections and extreme itchiness, and sapped my energy—I couldn’t do simple tasks like washing my own hair.
The only known cure is a liver transplant.
SickKids became my second home. Spending so much time around doctors and nurses, it shaped my career ambitions.
So did my mom, a nurse practitioner who, along with my dad, has been my biggest champion.
So after completing high school in 2017, I enrolled in nursing at TMU, and moved with my cat, Luna, into a condo near campus.
The disease continued progressing, but I wasn’t willing to give up my studies because of my illness. I wasn’t going to let my health define me.
Thanks to some accommodations by TMU, including a reduced course load, I was able to manage.
What also helped was the opportunity to learn from home due to the pandemic, and the steady support of my family—my two sisters are my best friends, they were always there for me.
By early 2021, I urgently needed a liver transplant. But none of my family or friends matched my blood type.
Afsana Lallani volunteers for University Health Network on the Living Donor Advisory Committee, and shares her story in public awareness campaigns. (Photo: Daniele Petrosino YE Agency)