Mariposa woman awaits liver transplant

Merced Sun-Star | Debbie Croft

I saw her last Saturday at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center. It was Day 39 for Amber Thorson, one very sick 25-year-old who is awaiting a liver transplant. She's had three transplants already, all within the first five years of her life.

Amber has a genetic disorder called Alpha 1-antitrypsin Deficiency.

A fourth transplant has never been done before, which means her doctor is looking for the perfect organ to place inside her petite frame. He performed her last transplant, and although the wait is long, he hasn't given up. He doesn't want her to either. Her name's on a national transplant list, at the top for this region.

In the meantime, her kidneys are failing. She endures three hours of dialysis four to five days a week. After the liver transplant, she'll need a kidney transplant.

Anti-rejection drugs have improved in the last 20 years, and new technology provides hope that a fourth transplant will extend Amber's life long enough for her to finish college, marry, have children and lead a normal life. All are things she's looking forward to doing.

Her mom, Rita, stays in Amber's hospital room during the week. She stays at a hotel with her husband, Jeff, Amber's father, on weekends when he drives more than 500 miles, round-trip, from Mariposa. During the week Jeff runs the office supply business he and his wife own.

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