2006.05.10: May 10, 2006: Headlines: COS - Liberia: DNA Testing: Liver Transplant: Medicine: Sexual Abuse: Courier-Post : DNA tests proved that Liver transplant recipient Ling Fasulo's father was a Massachusetts man who had an illicit relationship with Emma Paygar while he was in the Peace Corps in Liberia

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Medicine: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Medicine : 2006.05.10: May 10, 2006: Headlines: COS - Liberia: DNA Testing: Liver Transplant: Medicine: Sexual Abuse: Courier-Post : DNA tests proved that Liver transplant recipient Ling Fasulo's father was a Massachusetts man who had an illicit relationship with Emma Paygar while he was in the Peace Corps in Liberia

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-13-39.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.13.39) on Thursday, May 11, 2006 - 3:58 am: Edit Post

DNA tests proved that Liver transplant recipient Ling Fasulo's father was a Massachusetts man who had an illicit relationship with Emma Paygar while he was in the Peace Corps in Liberia

DNA tests proved that Liver transplant recipient Ling Fasulo's father was a Massachusetts man who had an illicit relationship with Emma Paygar while he was in the Peace Corps in Liberia

Fasulo, a Liberian, spent most of her adult life surviving the 14 years of civil war in her West African nation. She believes one of two soldiers in Liberia who raped her gave her the hepatitis B that ravaged her liver. Her illness has forced her to confront experiences she has lived with by burying them. Fasulo, whose father is a white American, said she was targeted in her home country because of her light skin, a feature considered attractive in Liberian women. When she was 18 one soldier took her to live with him and raped her almost daily for eight months, she said. If she said no, he threatened to kill her. "It was just constant," she said. "Every day, every day, every day. You're just like another (stick of) furniture they want and they can use you any way they want to."

DNA tests proved that Liver transplant recipient Ling Fasulo's father was a Massachusetts man who had an illicit relationship with Emma Paygar while he was in the Peace Corps in Liberia

New liver; hope for new life

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

By JASON LAUGHLIN
Courier-Post Staff

DELANCO

Emma Paygar sat in a darkened hospital room with a Bible on her lap, holding her daughter's hand.

"God, you know everything," Paygar prayed. "I cannot do it alone. Only you can do it. We have been through all this and you have pulled us through."

It was the pre-dawn hours of April 4 at Camden's Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. Paygar's daughter Ling Fasulo was near death.

"It was like waiting for your last day," Fasulo, 32, remembered of the hours she spent, sleepless, waiting for 3:30 a.m., when nurses would come to prepare her for a liver transplant.

"It was really very questionable whether or not she was going to survive," said Fasulo's doctor, John Radomski, the hospital's head of surgery.

Today Fasulo's back at her mother's Delanco home and is willing to show off the upside down "Y" scar that spans her belly. Her high-cheeked face is gaunt and she gets fatigued easily, but she's animated when she talks. She laughs as her sisters Eve, 18, and Mandie, 10, tease her about things only sisters could say. She downplays the danger she faced, saying she always believed she would survive.

Fasulo, a Liberian, spent most of her adult life surviving the 14 years of civil war in her West African nation. She believes one of two soldiers in Liberia who raped her gave her the hepatitis B that ravaged her liver. Her illness has forced her to confront experiences she has lived with by burying them.

"I just put it behind me because I just know that it happened to me and there's nothing to do about it and nothing I can feel about it and I just have to live with it," she said.

Fasulo, whose father is a white American, said she was targeted in her home country because of her light skin, a feature considered attractive in Liberian women. When she was 18 one soldier took her to live with him and raped her almost daily for eight months, she said. If she said no, he threatened to kill her.

"It was just constant," she said. "Every day, every day, every day. You're just like another (stick of) furniture they want and they can use you any way they want to."

She still carries a scar on her leg from that man's knife. He cut her deeply once when she fought off his sexual advances.

Two years later, another soldier took her to live with him. By then he had separated her from her year-old daughter. That man raped her twice, but ultimately helped her escape after two months, she said. She considers him someone who did her a favor.

Recently she has tested negative for the virus, and her doctors said in some cases the virus simply passes out of the system.

Fasulo escaped from Liberia to Senegal, but developed a swollen spleen doctors said could kill her. She arrived in the United States in March 2004.

America didn't offer an easy solution. The root problem wasn't her spleen. In 2005, doctors realized Fasulo's hepatitis B necessitated a liver transplant. That began five months of waiting for a donor liver.

Fasulo experienced the tightrope walk faced by the 18,000 people every year waiting for livers. Typically a patient has to be near death before they qualify for a transplant.

"That's a fine line because it's a big operation to do a liver transplant and patients can get to the point where you think they're too sick to undergo the procedure," Radomski said.

Ten to 15 percent of people on the waiting list each year will probably die waiting, he said.

In the past year Fasulo's family became accustomed to a state of constant vigil.

Mandie shares a bedroom with Fasulo and still has trouble sleeping.

"Sometimes I get afraid to sleep in the room with her, because I get anxiety with her in the room," Mandie said.

Eve Paygar transferred from Shaw University in North Carolina to Burlington County College to help her family.

"My mom is like my best friend and I'm the only person she could talk to so I just wanted to be close by," she said. "And, I mean, that's my sister and I was stressed out too."

From January to April, Fasulo lived at Lourdes, too sick to go home. Fasulo lay in a hospital bed, comatose, tubes sprouting like weeds from her nose, mouth and body. She twitched and shifted silently, as if still feeling pain.

Sometimes conscious, Fasulo was rarely lucid.

"I felt terrible," Paygar, 47, said. "She became like a baby. She began to cry and she could not sleep. All she would do is cry. She was blind. She couldn't see anything, she didn't know what was going on."

A small piece of good fortune came from the results of DNA tests that proved Fasulo's father was a Massachusetts man who had an illicit relationship with Paygar while he was in the Peace Corps. That allowed Fasulo to receive Medicare coverage that paid for her treatment. It also allowed her to stay in the country long after her original six-month visa expired.

Fasulo's father did not return calls for comment.

Fasulo was so ill by the time she qualified for a donor liver, she probably would not have lived one more month, Radomski said. He credited the medical team at the hospital, specifically Dr. Raza Hamdani, with keeping her alive until the transplant surgery.

Fasulo's not out of the woods. If a body's going to reject a transplanted organ, it's most likely to do it in the three to six months after the surgery, Radomski said.

And Fasulo may still need her spleen removed. Parts of it's dead and it's causing her serious pain. That's a decision that'll be made after Fasulo has recovered from the transplant.

After years of living with the threat of death Fasulo's grateful for a reprieve.

"At least somebody gave me the chance to live," she said.

Reach Jason Laughlin at (856) 486-2476 or jlaughlin@courierpostonline.com





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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Liberia; DNA Testing; Liver Transplant; Medicine; Sexual Abuse

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