Dad donates liver but can only help one twin
Twin toddlers Binh and Phuoc Wagner have a rare genetic disorder
called Alagille syndrome that affects their liver, heart and other vital
organs. The 3-year-old girls, who live in Kingston, Ontario, Canada,
need liver transplants to survive.
Their adoptive father, Michael Wagner, turned out to be a match but
he only has so much liver to donate. His gift could only help one of the
The family said it could never choose one child over the other, and
so they left the difficult decision to their doctor.
Yesterday, Wagner had a section of his liver removed at Toronto
General Hospital. Doctors quickly brought the organ next door to
SickKids hospital where Phuoc lay ready for transplant surgery, which
was expected to take 18 to 22 hours to complete, a hospital spokesperson
told the Globe and Mail newspaper.
Alagille syndrome occurs in approximately one in 30,000 births,
according to the National Institutes of Health. There is no known
For the most part, doctors focus on easing the discomfort and
severity of symptoms that can include jaundice, serious skin problems
and fewer-than-normal bile ducts inside the liver or none at all.
Complications of the disorder include liver failure, hypertension,
growth problems and an inability to absorb nutrients from food.
Approximately 10 to 30 percent of Alagille syndrome patients will
eventually require a liver transplant, according to the NIH.
The one-year survival rate for Alagille syndrome patients who receive
liver transplants is approximately 87 percent.
The family isn't giving up on a transplant for their other twin.
They started a Facebook page to track down potential liver donors for
Binh. Gary Levy, who runs the hospital's liver donor program, told Yahoo
Canada that the hospital has received 436 applications from strangers
interested in becoming a donor for the little girl.
On Wednesday, the family shared a Facebook update on the prognosis of
dad and daughter.
"Good news: both patients out of surgery. Phuoc's new liver looks
great, thank you Daddy. Dad is groggy, looking good, and joked that
someone had stolen a piece of his liver. Phuoc's g-tube was saved and
abdomen fully closed. Next few days are critical, but I could not have
asked for a better way to end this long day. I am the luckiest. And I
will be a pro at this when Binh gets her turn, hopefully soon."
The mother, Johanne Wager, told the Globe and Mail that she was
waiting to be tested as a potential donor for the Binh, as soon as her
husband and other daughter are on the road to recovery.
The Wagners, who have nine children in all, adopted the twin girls in
Vietnam in 2012, when they were a little more than a year and a half
Michael Wagner told the website he is still struggling to come to
terms with the fact that he's unable to help both his daughters.
"The cruel part of the liver is that you can only do it once," he