Parents seeking liver donor to save 3-year-old twins

Posted at 11:38 PM, Jan 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-26 23:38:35-05

A Canadian couple has reached out to the Internet to help save their twin 3-year-olds.

Binh and Phuoc Wagner both require a liver transplant to survive.

The problem is that their father, Michael Wagner, can donate to only one of the pair.

Wagner and his wife, Johanne, have taken their search for a second donor to social media, establishing a Facebook page, Liver Transplants for our Vietnamese Twin Girls, which has garnered more than 5,000 likes as of Monday afternoon. The Kingston, Ontario, couple also has a blog, One More Potato in the Pot, about their lives with nine children, four of whom are adopted.

“We need people to come forward, people who are willing to be assessed to be live liver donors,” Johanne Wagner told CBC News on Sunday. “Things could turn around very quickly on us, and their condition could get worse.”

The twins were adopted from Vietnam in November 2012, when they were 18 months old. The pair are afflicted with Alagille syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes liver damage because of bile duct abnormalities, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Genetics Home Reference.

Among other issues, the ailment causes the twins to itch severely — enough that they scratch while they sleep, creating sores.

“When we went to Vietnam, before we went, we knew that they were very ill, and we knew it was liver-related,” Michael Wagner told CBC News. “We said, ‘All right, we’re committed, and we’re going to move forward with the hope that everything is going to be OK.'”

The Wagners have been updating their Facebook page since establishing it December 26. What’s needed, they say, is someone who meets the following qualifications:

1) be older than 18 and younger than 60.

2) be in good overall health and physical condition.

3) have a compatible blood type: A or O (rhesus factor positive or negative does not matter).

4) have a BMI of less than 35 to be worked up for consideration and no greater than 32 at the time of surgery (transplant).

Livers do regrow, but a donor would have to be in a hospital for several days and take another few weeks to recover.

In the meantime, the Wagners and the girls’ doctors are monitoring the situation.

If things take a turn for the worse, the twins’ doctor Dr. Binita Kamath told CBC News, the girl who will receive Michael Wagner’s liver will be chosen based on immediate need.

“I think we will make the decision based on facts and keep it as dispassionate as possible,” she said. “We feel comfortable making this decision.”