62-Year-Old Man, Baby Saved by Same Liver

A 62-year-old man from Kentucky and an infant from Tennessee have something very special in common – they both received life-saving liver transplants from the same donor.

James Waterbury was suffering from the advanced stages of liver cancer and was taking 14 different medications a day to keep him alive, the Louisville news station WLKY-TV reported. His kidneys shut down twice, and he almost bled to death while he waited two years for a new liver.

But everything changed several months ago, when he became the recipient of the first-ever split-liver transplant done in Kentucky.

"We don't have enough donors out there,” Dr. Joseph Buell, director of transplantation at Jewish Hospital in Louisville told the news station. “There are plenty of people on the list and it's really hard to find reasonable organs for them to use. One of the options we have is split-liver transplantation. We use one liver and put it into two different people so we are able to save two lives.”

Four months after the surgery, the prognosis looks promising for both the baby in Tennessee who received the other half of the liver, as well as Waterbury.

The husband and father said he feels like he did 10 years ago.

"If it hadn't been for her, I don't know what I would have done," Waterbury said.

He’s talking about the 15-year-old donor killed in a car accident.

"I hate to remind them of their loss, but I would really like to thank them," he said.

The split transplant was so successful — doctors hope to perform more in Kentucky.

Click here to read more from WLKY-TV.