SAN ANTONIO – On Wednesday, donors and patients who were part of the first living donor liver exchange in the country at University Hospital were finally reunited.
The hospital transplant teams paired the two living donors with two patients who needed transplants in April.
Sarah D'Angelo found out she had liver cancer last year. Soon after, her friend, Natasha Sanchez offered to become a living donor.
"Natasha is a mother of two young children," D'Angelo said. "It's not like she can just have a major surgery and just jump back into what she does for a friend. So it meant everything to me, and it also meant that I can be with my children and my grandchildren."
Although D'Angelo and Sanchez were a match, Sanchez was approached about possibly being a living donor for someone else.
The other recipient was Mark Blair.
Blair's daughter, Anna Moreno, wanted to be a donor for her father, but she was not a match.
"Anna and my son, I figured, well, one of them will match me, and when they said, 'Well, you're not a match,' (I said,) 'Oh, God, I hope I live long enough to get a donor,'" Blair said.
"Of course, I was a little bummed out, but the transplant team said they have this thing -- a paired living donor thing," Moreno said.
The transplant teams paired Moreno with D'Angelo and Sanchez with Blair.
"We can now have incompatible donors successfully donate to recipients that are not originally intended recipients but somebody else," said Dr. Tarunjeet Klair, surgical director of the Living Liver Donor Program for University Health System. "The eventual outcome is a successful transplant of multiple parties, and that's saving lives."