Toddler Gets Life-Saving Liver Transplant from Dad, Twin Sister Still Needs Donor

Search for 3-year-old twin's liver donor goes on.

ByABC News
February 11, 2015, 9:55 AM

— -- A father and his 3-year-old daughter both are recovering after he successfully donated a portion of his liver to the girl.

Phuoc Wagner, 3, remains in fair condition in the intensive care unit at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto after she underwent the lengthy surgery Tuesday. Both Phuoc and her identical twin sister, Binh, needed liver transplants because of a genetic condition called Alagille syndrome, which can cause liver damage.

The girls' father, Michael Wagner, was a donor match, but could only donate to one child. He underwent surgery at Toronto General Hospital Tuesday and Phuoc's surgery was performed across the street at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Phuoc's mother, Johanne Wagner, posted an update on the girl today, writing that her "new liver looks great" and thanking her husband for life-saving donation. Johanne Wagner said in an earlier interview with ABC News that the twins' medical team was to decide which girl would get the first liver donation based upon their medical condition.

The two surgeries took over 13 hours after two transplant teams at two different hospitals tended to both Michael Wagner and Phuoc.

Johanne Wagner wrote that Phuoc looked better than she expected, but that that next few days would be critical. The family is still searching for a donor for Binh.

The family has been in and out of hospitals and doctors' offices since the girls were first adopted from Vietnam in 2012. Johanne Wagner has been documenting the twins' struggle on Facebook and her website, showing the smiling girls as they deal with doctors and nurses.

“We knew they were very ill,” Johanne Wagner said of the twins 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 part of our family.”

Last year, the girls’ condition worsened to the point that they were put on a transplant list. In order to find a donor for both girls, the family turned to social media, asking people consider being a living donor.

On her website, Johanne Wagner said the hospital had received more than 280 submissions from people who offered to be tested to see if they could be a living donor for Binh. Those potential donors still are being assessed.

"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."

Wagner is directing anyone interested in becoming a potential donor to the Toronto General Hospital Living Donor Assessment Office to see if they fit the profile.