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2 Girls Who Shared Liver for Transplant Recovering

March 17, 1993

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Two girls who received parts of the same liver in an unusual double transplant were reported doing well Tuesday, and their doctor said the operation could help reduce a long waiting list for the organs.

″Everything’s been good so far. Of all of the things that could go wrong in the first few days, none of them has happened,″ said Dr. Stephen Dunn, director of liver and kidney transplant programs at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

″Each child is acting if she had gotten a whole organ, or part of an organ that wasn’t divided for another transplant,″ Dunn said.

Tracy DeVore, 14, of East Stroudsburg was in good condition Tuesday and Rhea Jackson, 2, of East Orange, N.J., was in fair condition, according to hospital spokeswoman Kelly Deno.

Rhea had biliary atresia, a condition that prevents bile from draining out of the liver.

Tracy had alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, the most common metabolic disorder that destroys the liver. She had been in critical condition, which put her at the top of the waiting list for a transplant.

Her foster mother, Barbara Halterman, was asked if she’d agree to having part of the organ go to another child.

″I wanted to know: Would it jeopardize my child? I was told no, that it was sufficient and it was a good liver. I was ecstatic when the phone call came. And this is double excitement,″ Halterman said.

The operations involved nine doctors and eight nurses, starting at 8 a.m. Saturday and concluding at 1 a.m. Sunday. Three operating rooms were used.

It was the first time St. Christopher’s doctors tried splitting a donor liver between two recipients. The technique was developed by a surgeon at the University of Chicago.

More than 30,000 people are on waiting lists for U.S. liver transplants.

″The basic problem is there are not enough livers available,″ Dunn said. ″This would be a big step forward.″