TORONTO — An Ontario father was undergoing an operation Tuesday to give part of his liver to one of his ailing twin daughters.
Michael Wagner’s three-year-old twins — Phuoc and Binh — have Alagille syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the liver, heart and other organs, and without a liver transplant the girls will die.
Doctors decided which of the twins would receive the liver transplant after the family said it could not make the heart-wrenching decision — often compared to the film “Sophie’s Choice”.
“It’s a GO! Phuoc in the OR to receive the best gift a father could give — a liver,” reads a post on the family’s Facebook page, which is managed by the girls’ mother, Johanne Wagner.
The Kingston, Ont., family said the surgery for Michael Wagner at the Toronto General Hospital is going well, according to the Facebook post.
Phuoc Wagner will undergo surgery later today at the nearby SickKids hospital, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.
The two operations will take 18 to 22 hours, the spokesperson said, who will provide an update on the surgery Wednesday morning.
The Wagners, who have nine kids, are still waiting for a donor for their other daughter.
Gary Levy, who runs the liver donor program at the Toronto General Hospital, said donors can give up to 70 per cent of their liver, which will regrow to its full size, but that a living donor can only donate once.
Johanne Wagner said last week last week that she hasn’t been tested yet because she needs to be there for the kids if something goes wrong with her husband’s transplant surgery.
“She’s our reserve,” Michael Wagner said during a recent interview with The Canadian Press at the family’s home.
“Part of it is that we knew we could only do one parent at a time and that I would have to recover before she went in.”
Levy said that interest in donating a liver has jumped because of the girls’ story and he hopes to find a match for Binh soon.