Dad Donates Liver to One Toddler Daughter, Twin Sister Still Waiting for Donor

The father of twin girls both in need of liver transplants donated a portion of his liver to one of the girls today.

Michael Wagner underwent surgery to remove a portion of his liver that will then be used by doctors to help save the life of one of his daughters, Phuoc Wagner, 3.

Wagner’s wife Johanne Wagner updated family and friends on Facebook today, reporting that her husband’s liver was deemed good for transplant.

Wagner’s twin girls Binh and Phuoc have a genetic condition called Alagille syndrome, which can cause liver damage. They both needed a liver transplant to survive, but Wagner could only give his liver to one child. Johanne Wagner told ABC News in an earlier interview that doctors would decide which of their daughters would receive the liver based on their medical condition.

The two surgeries were expected to take 18 to 22 hours, according to a statement from the Hospital for Sick Children, in Toronto, Canada.

In the hospital statement, the Wagner family confirmed they were still searching for a donor liver for Binh.

The twins were adopted in from Vietnam in 2012 by the Wagners, who were aware the girls’ livers were in trouble during the adoption. The couple also have seven other children.

“We knew they were very ill,” Johanne Wagner said of the girls when they were first adopted. “Those girls knocked on our doors and they were supposed to be with us and it just took a different path. As soon as we heard about them, we knew they were they were part of our family.”

Last year, the girls’ condition worsened to the point that they were put on a transplant list. While the girls each need their own donor, the family was delighted to find out that Michael Wagner was a donor match.

Wagner could only donate tissue to one child because of the way the liver regenerates.

“We found ourselves to be very lucky that we qualified right away,” Johanne Wagner said of her husband being a match. “[We’re] relieved but we need one more donor.”

The family has now turned to social media and public outreach in the hope that a stranger could be a match. On her website, Johanne Wagner said the hospital had received over 280 submissions from people offering to be a donor for Binh.

“Hopefully those courageous people who have submitted their applications will elect to leave their name there in order to help save others who are on the list waiting for a liver, and are just as important as my daughters,” she wrote. “I hope this media campaign is giving hope to the many who are suffering in silence.”

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Maddy Taylor

Journalist and fact checker at The Pluto Daily. University of Miami Ohio alumni class of '09!