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‘He’s feeling a lot better’: Daughter donates part of her liver to father
  • Updated

In September, an Allegheny Health Network surgical team removed part of Hannah Snyder’s liver.

Thanks to the magic of tissue regeneration, the organ has grown back to its normal size.

While that’s good news for Snyder, it may be even better for her father, Jeff Weyrick of South Fayette Township, who also has a full-sized, healthy liver.

If not for his daughter’s decision to donate part of hers to him, his name still might be on a waiting list for a new one.

“They’re still adjusting medications, but he’s feeling a lot better,” said Snyder, who grew up in Peters Township.

About two years ago, Weyrick began suffering from ascites, an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen. He later was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma, cancer of the liver, and eventually became a candidate for a transplant.

Snyder soon learned she, as someone who’s very much alive, potentially could qualify as a liver donor. And according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, recipients of living-donor livers have a better long-term survival rate compared with livers that come from cadavers.

With that in mind, Snyder decided to pursue the possibility and discussed it with her father.

“I said, ‘At least let me get tested, because that will at least make me feel better, to know that I tried and didn’t just sit here and watch you wither away,’” she said.

She said she traveled from her home in Jacksonville, Fla., to Pittsburgh for “every test in the book, it felt like.”

The tests determined Snyder to be a match, and simultaneous procedures for her and Weyrick were scheduled for Sept. 29 with Allegheny General Hospital’s abdominal transplant team.

“There was really never the question for me as to backing out,” she said. “The transplant team was super reassuring that I could back out at any time, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did that.”

The surgeries occurred almost exactly three months to the day after the team completed its first living-donor liver transplant, joining a select group of U.S. medical centers performing that type of procedure. And for Snyder and her father, everything went as well as could be expected.

“It was a pretty good recovery, and I didn’t have any complications or anything,” she said.

She was able to recover in Pittsburgh while her husband, Joe, who was supportive throughout the entire process, took care of their son.

“I was ready to come back home, for sure. But it was nice to be able to not have to worry about anything with him,” she said about four-year-old Grayson.

Technology allowed them to keep in sufficient contact.

“We FaceTimed every day. He didn’t even notice I was gone,” Snyder said with a laugh.

Her father and mother, Mindy, were able to visit Grayson in Florida during the holiday season, thanks to one heck of an early gift on Snyder’s part.

“It was definitely a major surgery, but I definitely would do it again,” she said. “There’s no doubt in my mind. I would do it again if he needed it again.”

Changes on way for Peters Township golf course
  • Updated

Changes are on the way for the golf course off Church Hill Road in Peters Township.

Under new ownership and renamed the 1781 Club, celebrating the year of the township’s founding, the property will feature an expanded clubhouse with a 6,600-square-foot addition.

“We’re basically keeping the existing structure and just building it down and out,” said Barb Raymore, the club’s director of membership and service.

“So the same lounge downstairs will be bigger and offer outdoor seating with a fireplace.”

Plans include the opening of a restaurant, the Farmer’s Dining Room, with an emphasis on locally sourced food and related products. Along with public golf, membership packages with various levels of amenities, including preferred tee times and dining opportunities, will be offered.

Calling the club “family-friendly,” Raymore said the objective is to continue to provide opportunities for more people to play golf – women and youth are some targeted markets – while preserving the land on which the course is located.

Known as Scenic Valley Golf Club since its construction about two decades ago, the course changed ownership in November, the same month Peters Township Planning Commission approved the request for a revised site plan that primarily addresses the clubhouse expansion.

Earlier, the township zoning hearing board voted against a request for a private recreation facility, scotching plans for a swimming pool, pickleball courts and additional maintenance facilities.

During the planning commission’s Nov. 11 meeting, township assistant planning director Seth Koons said the clubhouse addition would extend toward the golf course, not closer to adjacent properties.

“We’re going to work with the applicant to establish not a new buffer between the golf course and those residential properties, but a quality buffer that’s supplemented from its existing conditions,” he said.

That includes a pair of Cobblestone Circle homes near the golf course’s driveway.

“Those two properties have no landscape buffer, whatsoever. So we’d like to see that boosted a little bit,” Koons said.

His department consulted with township traffic engineer Michael Mudry with regard to parking at the site.

“The traffic need for the golf course at its peak time, which is about 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon, doesn’t really conflict with the peak parking need of the restaurant/clubhouse during the evening hours,” Koons said. “So the number of parking spaces provided by the applicant is deemed sufficient by the township engineer.”

Township solicitor John Smith was consulted about the procedure for approving the revised site plan.

“He concurred that they have the right to do this building expansion and this minor site reconfiguration within the bounds of that existing special-exception approval,” Koons said. “That would not require an additional review by the township zoning hearing board.”

Approvals granted for deer sharpshooting program in Peters Township

A sharpshooting program to help reduce the deer population in Peters Township is on track to start in February.

The one-year pilot program received approval from township council during its final meeting of 2021, by a 4-3 vote. Opposing were Frank Arcuri, Monica Merrell and Gary Stiegel Jr.

“The township has engaged in an archery program to cull deer since 2008, and that program, alone, has not effectively controlled the deer population. To me, the logical next step is the sharpshooter program,” township manager Paul Lauer said in recommending the measure.

Conducting the program will be two members of the police department, Sgt. Jason Brunetti and Officer James Stevick. Both have been contracted by Mt. Lebanon to perform the same type of service.

“That they can safely and effectively perform this service in such a densely populated area as Mt. Lebanon without incident is significant,” Douglas Grimes, Peters police chief, wrote in a June memo to Lauer outlining his proposal for a sharpshooting program.

In September, council authorized Grimes to file a permit application for the program with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, another 4-3 vote with the same members in opposition. The commission approved the permit in December.

The program’s stated purpose is to decrease the number of deer-vehicle collisions in the township.

At a Dec. 13 public hearing held by council, Brunetti said that 91 accidents with “evidence of a deer being involved” were reported in 2020. The number had sunk as low as 40 in 2012, down from 74 prior to the launch of the archery cull.

The 2021-22 statewide archery deer season resumed Dec. 27 and continues through Jan. 17. Peters’ sharpshooting cull is scheduled to take place in February and March.

“The way the program would be structured would be to use bait at specific locations that are determined to be safe locations for the use of firearms,” Grimes said during the public hearing. “We’d take the deer quickly and humanely with the rifles.”

Brunetti explained that sharpshooting is intended to take place near areas with larger concentrations of deer-vehicle accidents, such as on Route 19, East McMurray Road and Valley Brook road. Shooting will take place from elevated positions against solid backdrops on properties where owners grant permission.

“Everyone will be aware in the immediate area,” Brunetti said, “and we utilize the bait to bring the deer to where we want them, to the safest locations.”

The Game Commission permit allows for a total of 100 to 125 deer to be taken.

“Personally, I’d be happy to see at least 70 in the program,” Grimes said. “I would consider that a success.”

Archery kills generally have numbered between 50 and 60 annually in recent years, contributing to the opinion expressed in Grimes’ memo that the “program has not achieved the desired result of a significant reduction in deer-car collisions and reduction of property/crop damages.”

The program is open to archers who apply through the police department, and includes background checks and a requirement for bowhunter safety courses.

“It’s becoming an issue of viable hunting properties,” Brunetti said about the program’s effectiveness. “It’s not an issue, necessarily, of the amount of hunters we have.”

With regard to the sharpshooting program, plans call for Brunetti and Stevick to perform the function while on duty, with expenses primarily for bait and processing the deer. The meat goes to the statewide Hunters Sharing the Harvest venison donation program, which distributes to food banks and other charitable organizations.

The program’s annual cost is estimated at $21,000, according to information provided at council’s Sept. 13 meeting.