It's the best Christmas present the Howe family could have asked for, and it's come two months early.
This past Thursday, at 10:30 a.m., Chris Howe received the phone call he and his family had been waiting over two years for.
“You wait, and you wait, and you wait for the call... and then the phone rings,” Chris' father Glenn Howe explained as he watched the plane transporting Chris to Edmonton take off from the Neepawa Airport Thursday at about 3:30 p.m.
In about June of 2011, at the age of 28, Christopher Howe was diagnosed with a terminal liver disease. To survive the disease Howe needed an urgent liver transplant.
He was also told he'd have to undergo a procedure that isn't available in Manitoba, and the surgery would require trips to Edmonton.
This past Thursday – just over two years later – the Howe's phone rang and Christopher was told there was a donor liver available at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.
About five hours later at 3:30 p.m. - with his wife and daughter Carmella and Clar-Ann, father Glenn, and friend Ryan Macsymic seeing him off, and his mother, Sharon, accompanying him - Chris was taking off on the tarmac at the Neepawa Airport for his surgery.
“It's amazing,” Sharon explained. “I've had knots in my stomach since the phone call.”
Thursday night Chris underwent a 12-hour surgery and his body accepted the donor liver. Chris is continuing to recover and is expected to be joined by the rest of his family in Edmonton this weekend. The recovery period for this type of transplant varies between six weeks and several months.
Over the past two years, the Howe's have received plenty of assistance from the community both physically, as friends helped with house and yard work at Chris' home when he was too weak to do so himself, and financially, to help with the costs of both the upcoming and preceding medically-related costs.
Now, with the transplant finally complete, that's something the Howe's wanted to make sure people in the Neepawa area knew they appreciated.
“The community really has helped us a lot,” Glenn explained to The Neepawa Press Thursday.