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Primary Children’s Hospital celebrates first-ever two-time living organ donor

Around the time of her first birthday, Eva received part of Kate’s liver. After a year of healing, Eva’s liver transplant team arranged for Eva and her parents to meet Kate at Primary Children’s Hospital. (Photos courtesy of Intermountain Health)

Two-year-old Eva has shown her liver transplant scar to many grown-ups, but none were as special as the living donor who made history at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and saved Eva’s life.

Kate is the first person in Utah to become a two-organ living donor. The 37-year-old mother is among the 155 people nationwide who have donated both a kidney and part of their liver to save the lives of others.

After donating a kidney to a woman she met while working in the Washington, D.C., area, Kate then gave part of her liver to Eva, who at the time was a total stranger.

“I’m very happy that I did it,” Kate said after meeting Eva. “She’s super cute and silly, and exactly the way a 2-year-old should be.”

Living-donor liver transplants occur when a portion of a living person’s liver is removed and surgically placed into another person whose liver no longer works properly. After surgery, the donor’s liver regenerates to its regular size within about two months. In the recipient, the transplanted liver grows to fit his or her body and functions as a healthy liver.

“Living-donor liver transplants not only significantly increase the number of available organs for children waiting for a transplant, but they also reduce the waiting time for children who urgently require a liver transplant, saving their lives,” said Cecile Aguayo, pediatric transplant services director at Primary Children’s. “Moreover, the use of living donors also enables the transplant to be performed before the child’s condition deteriorates, resulting in better outcomes and quality of life post-transplant.”

Primary Children’s has been a national leader in living-donor liver transplants since 1997, when it became the first center in Utah to successfully perform the procedure. At that time, Primary Children’s was among few pediatric hospitals in the country that had saved a child through living-donor liver transplantation.

Since 1997, 42 living-donor liver transplants have taken place at the hospital which also has the largest liver and disease transplantation program in the Intermountain West and serves patients from all over the world. For information on becoming a living organ donor for a child, visit

After donating a kidney in Washington, D.C., Kate moved to Utah where she contacted Primary Children’s and offered to donate part of her liver to help a child in need. Eva was the recipient. She had been treated for biliary atresia since she was two months old.

“It was nine months of waiting [for a matching liver donor],” said Eva’s mom, Alyssa Anderson. “Without intervention, her liver would have failed, and she would have died. Most kids with this disease years ago wouldn’t have even lived to see their first birthday.”

Around the time she turned 1, Eva received part of Kate’s liver. After a year of healing, Eva’s liver transplant team arranged for Eva and her parents to meet Kate at Primary Children’s.

“I was kind of star-struck,” Anderson said of meeting Kate. “I said, ‘You’re a real person, you’re normal, and you’re just like me.’ She’s a mom, just like me.”

 “It’s a wonderful experience to help someone, even in general. Like when you open the door for someone, they’re just really happy about it…and it makes your day to help,” Kate said. “So, imagine the opportunity to donate and save someone’s life.”

Anderson said she hopes to follow Kate’s example someday and pay it forward to another family. “You don’t know how much it means to the people you’re saving.” λ