Organ Transplant Surgery: How Death Can Sometimes Mean New Life

Dr. Winston Hewitt with liver transplant recipient Maia Thompson. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Children's Hospital)
KJZZ 91.5 | Carrie Jung

Christine Thompson says she knew something wasn’t quite right with her daughter, Maia, shortly after arriving home from a family vacation last Fall.

“I remember picking her up from school and she was complaining that she was feeling really tired,” she said. What was happening inside of Maia’s body was more than just post-vacation fatigue. Instead, it was something much more serious.

When she came into the bedroom the first time, I saw her. She was completely yellow and jaundice,” Thompson explained.

The family rushed to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and after a few tests doctors determined the culprit. Maia had Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic disorder that allows your body to accumulate dangerously high levels of copper in vital organs, especially the liver, and now her liver was failing.

“I was scared,” said Maia, now 13. “Because I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Maia was immediately placed on the national liver transplant waiting list, but once at the hospital, her condition deteriorated quickly. Maia’s family members were tested to see if they might be a match, but to no avail. So they waited. Continue reading
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