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One-in-five people on the waiting list for a donor liver will die before an organ becomes available. Now, over the past two years the number of people undergoing living liver transplantation in the U.S. has risen.

Thirty-seven-year old Wayne Livingston hated pancakes until six months ago. Now he can’t get enough of them. 

Fitness and pancakes are two things Livingston has in common with 49-year old Rina Kader.

The third? A piece of Rina is now inside Wayne.

Livingston had a life-threatening liver condition, hiding his yellowing eyes behind dark glasses. He needed a transplant but couldn’t even get on the donor list because of insurance restrictions. Despite growing fatigue last year, Wayne continued his landscaping job.

Livingston said, “I was at Rina’s and was letting her know I might not be able to cut your grass in the fall. She said why, what’s wrong? I said I have to have a liver transplant, and I don’t know what that’s going to look like.”

In that instant, Rina made a decision to help a man she barely knew.

Kader said, “The need was there. And I felt I could fill it.”

Nationwide, five percent of all liver donations are from a live donor. At UPMC in Pittsburgh, it’s 55 percent.

With living liver donation, surgeons need just a portion since it has the unique ability to grow back. 

Abhi Humar, MD, Chief of Transplant Surgery said, “So within eight to ten weeks the liver will regenerate back to full size.”

On October 22nd, both Rina and Wayne entered the hospital. Rina’s surgery started first, followed by Wayne’s.

Both were successful.

Kader said, “All these beautiful wonderful things in life have to start somewhere with one person saying yes.”

One person’s leap-of-faith, becoming another’s second chance.

Livingston said, “My angel happened to be someone I was cutting grass for. Who knew?”

None of Waynes family members were a match.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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