The transplant surgeon had good news: A donated liver was on the way for critically ill Maggie Catherwood. Then he asked: Would she let doctors cut off part of her new liver to share with an equally sick baby?
“I can’t imagine anyone saying no,” the 21-year-old college student said last week as, teary-eyed, she met 8-month-old Allison Brown, carefully cuddling the wide-eyed baby so as not to bump each other’s healing incisions.
Actually, few ever get the choice — something the nation’s transplant network soon may change. There’s a push to increase liver-splitting that could have many more people who are awaiting transplants being asked to share a piece of their new organ.
If the proposed changes are enacted, “I think it’s safe to say we could nearly eliminate death on the pediatric liver waiting list,” said Allison’s surgeon, Dr. Thomas Fishbein of Georgetown University Hospital.
A liver is unlike any other organ: A piece of a healthy one can grow into a whole organ in about a month. That’s why some people receive liver transplants from living donors who have just a portion of their organ cut out and given away.
It’s good to know that strides are still being made to help give the gift of life to others. I know when given the choice, most people want to go to heaven, but just not right now.
Enjoy this life; it is precious.
Posted by Rich (subbing for Lo)