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About Sickkids
About SickKids

March 23, 2015

SickKids – UHN collaboration results in life-saving transplant

At the beginning of March, three-year-old Phuoc Wagner returned home to her twin sister Binh and seven other siblings, after a successful living donor liver transplant – the liver donated by her father Michael Wagner of Kingston, Ontario.

The Hospital for Sick Children’s (SickKids) Transplant & Regenerative Medicine Centre (TRMC) collaborated with Toronto General Hospital’s (TGH) Multi-Organ Transplant Program on the living donor transplant, which took place on February 10. 

Twins Binh and Phuoc Wagner

“This transplant would not have been possible without the strong collaboration between UHN and SickKids,” says Dr. Binita Kamath, Staff Hepatologist in the Transplant and Regenerative Medicine Centre at SickKids. “Together we are able to provide the best in complex care for children and adults involved in liver transplants.”

The twins have Alagille syndrome, a genetic condition that arises due to a lack of bile ducts in the liver, which can lead to jaundice, poor nutrient absorption and in some cases, end stage liver disease. Although Phuoc and Michael have returned to their normal routines back home, twin sister Binh awaits her turn for a liver transplant.

The Wagner family is optimistic about finding a second donor soon. TGH has already had over 500 potential donors come forward.  

“Living liver donation is life-saving and is an important way to address the urgent need for more donors in Ontario,” said Dr. Gary Levy, who oversees the live liver donor program at TGH, UHN.

Living donor transplants reduce the time a patient needs to wait for a liver transplant and provide a survival advantage compared to using a deceased donor organ. SickKids completed its first living related liver transplant in 1996, just ten years after beginning its Liver Transplant Program.

The SickKids Liver Transplant Program is the largest of its kind in Canada, performing approximately 30 liver transplants a year; 20 of which are live donor transplants done in collaboration with TGH and are usually from parent to child.

“It’s my hope that this family’s story will inspire the public and highlight the need for organ donation in general, whether it be deceased or living donor donation,” says Dr. Kamath.

The Liver Transplant Program is just one of the clinical transplant programs run by the TRMC, which provides over 70 solid organ transplants a year. The TRMC provides specialized and complex care to children in need of liver, heart, lung, kidney and bowel transplants.