Living Donor Transplant Triumph

Organ donors save thousands of lives each year, yet while the number of organs needed has increased, the number of available organs is declining. Living donor transplantation is a new option available for anyone currently on the liver transplant waiting list at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas—one of only two living donor transplant programs in Texas.

“At the end of the day, lack of organs is the bottleneck to treatment. Having a living donor means your treatment won’t have to be delayed while waiting for an organ, and your life won’t have to be put on hold all that time,” says Giuliano Testa, MD, surgical director of living donor transplantation at Baylor Dallas.

The Greatest Gift

Lisa Stickles, 47, knows the benefits of living donor transplantation from personal experience. This spring, her daughter Shayna Acuna, gave Stickles 60 percent of her liver through living donor transplant surgery at Baylor Dallas.

Stickles was reluctant to ask a family member to be her living donor, so her oldest daughter, Acuna, 30 contacted Baylor’s living donor program on her own.

“She told me she’d prayed about it for a solid week, and she felt like this was what she was supposed to do,” Stickles says.

After completing extensive testing, Acuna, a mother of four young boys herself, was found to be a match, and the surgery was scheduled for May 1.

Today, both mother and daughter are recovering beautifully. Most livers rejuvenate within six weeks, and Acuna returned to work in June. Stickles faces a tougher recovery due to the extent of her illness at the time of surgery, but says she has improved drastically and is grateful to her care team.

“I don’t think we could have searched the world over and found a better group of people than the people at Baylor, from the surgeon who’s been there the longest to the receptionist who answers the phone,” she says.

A Real Option

Most patients can receive a living donor transplant, and the requirements to be a donor are minimal. Donors must be:

  • Younger than age 55
  • A matching or compatible blood type
  • A healthy weight

Find out if you are a donor candidate today.

This content originally appeared in the November 2013 edition of Baylor Health Magazine.

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Living Donor Transplant Triumph