St. Cloud State professor searching for liver donor

KARE 11 | Bryan Platt

SAINT CLOUD, Minn. - Bel Kambach has traveled the globe - 103 countries, to be exact.

But now, the travel and tourism professor at St. Cloud State, is on a journey to save her own life.

“This is an ugly illness,” she says.

After noticing a severe itch on her feet, Bel was diagnosed with primary biliary cholangitis, or PBC, back in 2009. PBC is an auto-immune disease that essentially destroys the liver. Bel says her liver is failing. “This is end stage, this is the last that you get with PBC. Already, your liver is dying,” she says.

There's no treatment for PBC, so Bel's only hope is a liver transplant.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are just under 20,000 people waiting for liver transplants in the U.S., but Bel says she's healthy enough for a little while longer to accept a living donor. Doctors can remove a portion of someone else's liver and give it to Bel.

The donor's liver would eventually grow back, but Mayo Clinic Transplant Center Director Dr. Charles Rosen says it's a procedure that doesn't come without risk.

“With kidney transplantation, for instance, a living donor kidney, the risk of that donor’s life is one in a couple of thousand. For living liver donation, the risk to a donor's life is about one in 300,” Dr. Rosen says. Continue reading

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