100th living donor liver transplant given to local nurse - WNEM TV 5

100th living donor liver transplant given to local nurse

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A local woman became the 100th liver transplant recipient at Henry Ford Hospital.

Susan Cowles battled autoimmune hepatitis for nearly 20 years, but thanks to her goddaughter and donor, she’s alive and well.

"I've fought this fight since 1999,” Cowles said. “I went into liver failure and throughout the years I’ve been going in and out of remission.”

In recent months, Cowles health declined rapidly. She need a liver – and fast. Cowles was a registered nurse in the Saginaw area for most of her life, and she knew it could take years.

Then, the doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit suggested she ask a family member to donate half of their liver.

"About one percent of all liver transplants are done with a living donor. In contrast to about 30 to 40 of all kidney transplants that are done with a living donor. I think it's a great opportunity to save more lives,” said Dr. Atsushi Yoshida, a surgeon at Henry Ford Hospital.

Cowles’ surgeon said since livers regenerate, liver donation is becoming a viable option for patients. Getting a person to volunteer can be difficult, though.

"It's a very hard decision to make. Some people will go through the process that they want to donate their liver but won’t actually go through with it cause in the end they get cold feet even though the operation is very safe,” Yoshida said.

Cowles said luckily her goddaughter, Joyce, wanted to go through with the surgery, which happened on June 12 of this year.

It was the 100th living donor liver transplant at Henry Ford Hospital. Cowles sister, Nancy French, has been helping her recover. She said Cowles can finally live life again.

"Enjoying her life, because for the most part, and last several years, she's been too tired,” French said.

Doctors said Cowles new liver should last the rest of her life.

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