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Pa. soldier explains why she's anonymously donating liver - abc27 WHTM

Pa. soldier explains why she's anonymously donating liver

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

A Pennsylvania soldier donating a massive portion of her liver to a dying Vietnam veteran says she does not want to meet him. The only thing she knows about him is that he is from Connecticut, where her surgery was performed.

"I wanted to specify that it was a Vietnam veteran, but I didn't want to do any other kind of specifications other than that," she said. "I didn't want to say 'I want one who didn't damage his liver from alcohol' or something like that, because I don't want to judge this person. I don't want to play God and decide who gets it. I want God to play God so that whoever is supposed to get this, is going to get it."

Finding a hospital and surgeon to accommodate an "altruistic" donation -- in which the recipient is random and not a friend or family member -- was difficult. The soldier, who does not want to be identified, said after exhausting all options in her home state, she found Dr. Sukru Emre at Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center.

"We call them our heroes -- they have a special place in our hearts, so we try to accommodate whatever their wishes," Emre said. "While I'm cutting the donor's skin, I always say I get goose-bumps, because you are operating on a healthy individual."

"There are some risks, and I am scared, but I'm at peace at the same time," she said.

During the seven-hour surgery, she and the veteran were only separated by one wall. Emre said the procedures must be done essentially side-by-side in order to transplant the portion of liver as quickly as possible.

If all goes well, her liver will fully regenerate within 6-8 weeks, Emre said. It will take her nearly one year to full recover because of the complexity of the incision.

For more information on organ donations at Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center, go to: http://www.ynhh.org/transplantation-center/default.aspx.

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