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Yuma mother donates her liver to save her 1-year-old daughter

Venessa Negrete and daughter Aliyah underwent simultaneous surgeries in March to give the 1-year old daughter a liver.

Yuma mother donates her liver to save her 1-year-old daughter

CREATED May 2, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- A Yuma mother gives life to her daughter --- not once -- but twice. 1-year-old Aliyah Negrete was born with a rare condition called biliary artresia that affects the liver. She was released from UA Medical Center on Wednesday after a successful liver transplant --- donated by her mother, 26-year-old Venessa Negrete.

"It was really hard," said Venessa tearfully during a news conference held at the Arizona Cancer Center. She explained that it was difficult to watch her 1 year old daughter suffer most of her life from a condition that affects the liver's ability to secrete bile -- causing cirrhosis and jaundice. "When she had fevers, I could tell she was not comfortable," said Venessa. The condition strikes one out of every 10,000 to 15,000 births and is the leading reason for liver transplants in children. It's neither hereditary nor caused by anything that occurs during pregnancy.

Aliyah and her parents waited several months for a deceased donor. "We did not find a deceased donor in time and after extensive evaluations of family members, it was determined that the best match was Aliyah's mother," said Chief of Surgery Dr.  Rainer Gruessner.  And Venessa said she didn't hesitate at the chance to help save her daughter.

A team of 5 surgeons performed the relatively rare procedure March 20th. During the liver transplant,  surgeons took about 25 percent of Vanessa's liver and transplanted it into Aliyah. The liver is expected to regenerate itself. The surgery was a success -- setting a new precedent for children with liver disease in Arizona.

Dr. Khalid Khan, director of the Pediatric Liver and Intensive Transplant Program said, "We now have the possibility to do this for the first time. The ability to perform living-related liver transplants make us less dependent on the short supply of deceased donor organs -- giving new hope for children who need a liver transplant."

And for the parents who wish nothing more than to see their children -- healthy and happy.
"Right now, she's really happy. She smiles. She's going to be really good," said Venessa.

Aliyah and her family will be staying at the Ronald McDonald House while she recovers from her surgery.