TORONTO — Several potential organ donors are undergoing tests at a Toronto hospital and doctors say they are hopeful they will soon find a match for a little girl who needs a new liver to survive.
Three-year-old Phuoc Wagner, who has Alagille syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects vital organs, received a part of her father’s liver Tuesday, but her twin sister Binh, who suffers from the same condition, is still waiting for a donor.
Dr. Gary Levy, who runs the liver donor program at the Toronto General Hospital, said Phuoc and her father, Michael Wagner, are “recovering well” following the surgeries.
He said more than 400 potential donors have come forward since the Kingston, Ont., family made a public plea last month and he hopes a donor match for Binh is close.
“We anticipate that within the next short while, seven to 14 days, we will define several individuals who can step forward to be the donor for Binh,” Dr. Levy said.
Phuoc remains in hospital and really wants a hug from her mother, the girls’ mother, Johanne Wagner, said at a new conference Thursday.
“It’s hard not to be able to hold her, I’m very much a cuddler,” Johanne Wagner said.
The surgery has been difficult on the family, who have nine children.
“It’s hard to juggle between my little Binh who is still waiting and very much needs mommy, and my little Phu-Phu who gets very anxious when she sees me,” Johanne Wagner said.
She called her husband, Michael Wagner, her “hero” for giving part of his liver to Phuoc.
“Thank you Michael for giving the best present ever to our daughter,” Johanne Wagner said.
“There’s no price to that.”
Dr. Levy said surgeons at the Toronto General Hospital removed 10 to 15 per cent of Michael Wagner’s liver in a six-hour surgery on Tuesday. They brought the liver across the street to SickKids hospital where surgeons transplanted it into Phuoc. That surgery took another seven hours.
The twin girls’ story made headlines around the world when the family said it couldn’t possibly decide which daughter would receive the donation, so they left it to doctors to pick the best candidate based on medical reasons.
Michael Wagner couldn’t donate multiple parts of his liver to both girls because he wouldn’t have enough left to live, Dr. Levy said.
So the family waits. Dr. Binita Kamath, a liver specialist at SickKids hospital, said Binh is stable at the moment, but needs a new liver within the next several months.