Sault Ste. Marie Doctor to Return Home After Hard Battle with Liver Transplant

Dr. Joe Garlinghouse was diagnosed with crpytogenic cirrhosis, a condition that impairs liver function, in 2018. He was going to have to undergo a liver transplant.

After waiting for almost three years, they finally found a liver for Joe, and he received a transplant this past November.  After staying in at the University of Michigan and undergoing physical therapy for months, Joe is finally ready to come home.

When Joe’s wife Kristen set up a Facebook page to update friends and family on his condition, she wasn’t expecting it to reach over 1,200 followers. “People set up spaghetti dinners and canned food drives and a craft night, and I literally can’t wrap my mind around a community that would be so giving and kind and generous and kind to us,” she said. “I didn’t know he knew this many people. It’s blown my mind. Sault Ste. Marie is a great place, and it’s filled with great people.”

Kristen was unable to see her husband in person throughout most of his time there due to COVID restrictions, and she said that was something she wasn’t prepared for. “I had no idea how painful that would be as part of the journey,” she said. “I know a liver transplant isn’t an easy thing, but to do it apart was a lot worse than I was expecting.”

Joe was discharged from the University of Michigan on Monday, and he’ll soon be welcomed home by family in Sault Ste. Marie. The couple welcomed their first grandchild in December and they’re looking forward to grandpa and grandson meeting each other for the first time.