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Rare Surgery Splits Organ for Two Recipients
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Surgeons Chris Anderson and Mark Earl with patients Dixon and Barnes.
Courtesy of UMMC

A rare liver transplant is changing the lives of two Mississippi women in a procedure that could be the first of its kind in the state. MPB's Alexis Ware reports  

Surgeons at the University of Mississippi Medical Center are granting two women a chance at a healthier life with a rare split-liver transplant. 22-year-old Bettina Dixon and Roda Barnes, age 46, were each able to receive half of the donated liver. That means one liver donation is split into essentially a left and right half and given to two separate patients.

Dixon says the transplant will give her the chance to better her life. 

"To better myself to do things I couldn't do like go back to school find a better job pursuing my career that I wanted. Keep living, now I can live a normal life like I always wanted." 

While the split-liver procedure is common between two children or a child and an adult, it's rare between two adults. The United Network for Organ Sharing reports there were only five adult split-liver procedures nationwide in 2016.

Doctor Chris Anderson is one of the transplant surgeons. He says the surgery is rare because both adult recipients have to meet the right qualifications.

"A lot of factors have to be right. First off the anatomy of the donor liver has to be correct in order to do that. Second off you have to have recipients that are small enough, so that that piece of liver will be enough to support them until it begins growing."  

Anderson says the risk for patients is greater in split-liver transplants, but Dixon and Barnes are both on the right track to recovery. He says performing more of these surgeries is the right thing to do because there are more people waiting for liver transplants than there are available organs.