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NYC Dad Saves His Daughter's Life with Liver Donation

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When Peter McKay and his husband, Chris, brought home their daughter from the hospital, they were overjoyed.

But two months after bringing Darcy to their Crown Heights apartment, she began to show signs of liver failure. Peter and Chris soon learned that their baby, Darcy, had a rare genetic disease called progressive intrahepatic cholestasis type 2, or PFIC2, which prevents liver cells from properly flushing out bile and forcing it into the bloodstream instead. 

If left untreated, doctors told the couple, the disease would shut down Darcy’s liver. Without a liver transplant, she could die.

"The news was devastating and, as we learned more about it, we were just numb and heartbroken," Chris told Patch, which first shared their story. "She was just a couple of months old and we absolutely adored her and had fallen in love with her, and here we get this news."

Living in the New York, the situation was even direr: the state has a liver transplant list 2,000 names long and the nation’s shortest organ donor registry.

But Darcy’s doctors offered another option: a living donor transplant. When both fathers found out they were matches, they decided Peter would donate part of his liver to their daughter.

The transplant saved two lives, said Weill Cornell Medicine’s Dr. Benjamin Samstein, who performed Peter’s surgery. Dr. Samstein is also the Chief of Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the Surgical Director of the Living Donor Liver Transplant Program at NewYork-Presbyterian.

“Peter, yes, he saved his daughter, but he also saved a beautiful child who will grow up and have an opportunity to grow up and live a normal life," Samstein told Patch. "And I think it's one of the fantastic things about transplant, is that all of us have the ability to save lives in the same way."

Head over to Patch to read more of Darcy’s story or learn more about living donor transplantations at Weill Cornell Medicine.