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A Day in the Life of a Living Donor: Liver Transplant Surgery

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Cecilia Shaffette was born with a rare disease called biliary atresia. This liver disease affects the bile duct's ability to drain bile from the liver to the intestines. Although Cecilia underwent an operation as an infant to help with her liver's bile drainage, the operation would not keep her liver healthy for long. It was later decided that a liver transplant was the best option.

Cecilia was placed on the liver transplant waiting list, but it was challenging to find the right match. Her family decided it was time to explore other options. John Seal, MD, discussed the possibility of a living donation in which one of Cecilia's parents’ livers would be split in two and transplanted into Cecilia.

Without hesitation, Cecilia's father, Rhett Shaffette, went to get the tests done and was found to be a match. Cecilia's mother, Angelle Shaffette, knew despite the initial worry this was meant to be.

Angelle said, "He is our leader and he always takes care of us and so he was doing exactly what I had always expected that he would do. I wasn't scared. I wasn't worried. I knew that this was what he was meant to do."

Cecilia also felt nervous but knew that knew it was what needed to happen. "It was kind of nerve-racking, but it was what we needed to do and I was OK with that … just have to roll with the punches," Cecilia said.

Half a year later, both Cecilia and her father are doing well and are enjoying a second chance at life made possible through living organ donation.

Dr. Seal said, "You can only imagine watching your child suffer through a life-threatening condition and watching them deteriorate. But with a living donation, Rhett really had this extraordinary opportunity to take some control of this scary process. Here he has a chance to step into this role to give part of his own self to save his daughter's life."

To learn more about Ochsner's liver transplant program, please visit:

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