Surgeon Dances With Former Transplant Patient at Her Wedding 10 Years After Life-Saving Surgery

Christine Tabar underwent a liver transplant 10 years ago at age 14.

ByABC News
July 25, 2015, 12:34 AM
Chrsitine Tabar invited her transplant surgeon Dr. John Fung to her wedding 10 years after her life-saving operation.
Chrsitine Tabar invited her transplant surgeon Dr. John Fung to her wedding 10 years after her life-saving operation.
Christine Tabar

— -- On Christine Tabar’s wedding day, the surgeon who helped give her a new lease on life 10 years ago was again tasked with saving the day by becoming an emergency wedding photographer.

“Our photographer for the reception bailed out last minute,” Tabar told ABC News. “Between being a surgeon, saving my life and taking pictures. ... He’s incredible.”

Ever since undergoing a liver transplant at 14, Tabar said she knew she wanted to invite Dr. John Fung, director of the Cleveland Clinic Health System Transplantation Center, to her wedding.

“He’s been around to make sure I feel confident about my health,” she said.

The pair have known each other since Tabar was a teenager in need of a new liver. Born with biliary atresia, Tabar’s liver lacked bile ducts and she grew up knowing she would have to get a liver transplant.

When she was 14, complications set in that affected how much blood her lungs were getting. A transplant suddenly became critical.

“I was scared a lot of the time but being at the clinic and talking with my doctors made me feel more confident. I could really tell that they knew what they were doing, and literally [trust them] with my life,” she said.

To get her a liver quickly, Fung performed a rare “split liver” transplant. In this case, a donated deliver is divided in half and given to two patients.

“It’s the same technology as [from] a living donor, instead of getting a half from a liver donor and we’re getting two halves from deceased donor,” Fung explained to ABC News. “This is one way to expand the donor pool.”

Tabar quickly recovered from her transplant but still saw Fung periodically for check-ups.

“It was nice having him as a reassurance that … things was going to be OK,” Tabar said. “You still have those worries, 'What if it starts to reject and what if I get sick?'”

Ten years after her transplant, Tabar still sees Fung at the airport where she works as a manager.

“I would see her once every 2 or 3 weeks,” Fung said. “You like to think that your patients can lead a normal life. That’s what she was able to do.”

At the wedding, in Cleveland on June 27, the pair even shared a “dollar dance,” where anyone can dance for 30 seconds with the bride or groom for a dollar.

“As an attendee it was a lot of fun,” said Fung, who said he was excited to get to try out his photography hobby at the reception.

“This is a continuation of our relationship and friendship,” he said. “I’m looking forward to when they have kids.”