Debbie Fetterly in 2019 [photo provided by Amy Watkins]

by Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Debbie Fetterly, a long time resident of Kemptville, is seeking a living donor liver transplant. Debbie worked for 24 years at Patterson Hadden Brown Insurance, now known as McDougall Brown Insurance & Financial. She only retired two years ago. Daughter of the late Joe and Shirley Arcand, Debbie has long standing ties with Holy Cross Church Parish. She is the mother of Amy Watkins and Michael Fetterly, and grandmother of four.

Debbie and her family have made the difficult decision to make a public plea for a donor. Several family members have been tested as donors, but none were found to be a match. The family is hoping that someone, even a generous stranger, may step forward to help as a living donor.

Debbie’s daughter, Amy, explained: “In January, 2020, my Mom was placed on the liver transplant list after her Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease caused irreparable damage to her liver. As you may be aware, at any given time there are several hundred people waiting for a liver transplant, and the odds are Debbie won’t receive a liver transplant in time, as her health continues to deteriorate. Simply put, we need a donor soon, who is a match and is willing to donate a piece of their liver in order to save my Mom’s life.”

The liver is an organ that can regenerate itself. This means that a living-liver donation is not only possible, but a lifesaving alternative to waiting on the list. A living donor gives 70% of their healthy liver to the recipient, and the donor’s organ is expected to regenerate over several weeks.

Various criteria are used to determine a suitable match, including, but not limited to, being older than 16 years of age, in good health, willing to freely donate and be screened for a matching blood type.

Amy explained that Debbie did not want to make a public plea such as this, “because she has never been one to ask anything from others.” But Debbie’s health is rapidly deteriorating. Through conversations with her family, Debbie has realized how important it is for her to be there for her children and grandchildren. She said, “My family has been a wonderful support, and I couldn’t manage without their support. I could never repay them, or a donor, for all that they have given, or would give me. It is so much to ask someone to save your life, but I would like to get better to be able to keep thanking them for the rest of my life.”

Each and every day, anonymous donors step forward to donate to virtual strangers. Amy’s hope is “that my Mom is that lucky as well.” Her blood type is O+.

If you are interested in learning more about how to be a living donor, please visit the University Health Network Living Donor webpage at, or get in contact with Amy at [email protected]


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