Donating a liver is something doctors say is very rare, and something most of them have never seen, because it involves a complex surgery that can be risky for both.
One young woman put her lie on the line to save a child’s.
A little girl named Sage was on the liver waiting list for months.
“She was diagnosed at six months with leukemia, kind of a rare type of leukemia, so doctors had to try a bunch of different chemo’s, but they knew it wouldn’t be the end of it,” Athena Alexander, Sage’s mom, said.
The harsh treatment, along with a bone marrow transplant, cured the cancer, but caused major damage to Sage’s body, including her liver.
Doctors told the family last summer that she would need a transplant.
“We didn’t really get any responses,” Alexander said. “We didn’t hear much and it felt like we weren’t making any progress on it.”
The family launched a social media campaign, which led to a story on the local news. That’s when 23-year-old Molly Bricker learned about Sage.
“I immediately said, ‘Oh my gosh. She needs a liver, I have a liver. I have to apply,’” Bricker said. “I don’t even know what the specific reason was. I just felt really strongly that the lord was calling me to do it.”
Dr. Thomas Fishbein, a transplant surgeon, said liver transplants are very difficult, complex procedures, much more complex than other types of transplant surgery.
“This child didn’t have any other donor who could give an organ and she was going downhill rapidly,” Dr. Fishbein.
Bricker underwent the surgery a week ago. Doctors removed about 15 to 20 percent of her liver, then implanted it into Sage.
That piece of organ will grow with her as she gets older, while Bricker’s remaining liver will regenerate, reaching full size in three to six months.