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18th Feb 2015

Dad forced to choose between twin daughters who both need life-saving liver transplants

Phuoc and Binh Wagner both suffer from Alagille syndrome

Katie Mythen-Lynch

A Canadian father was forced to choose which of his three-year-old twin daughters to donate part of his liver to, after both girls developed Alagille syndrome, a condition that causes the liver to fail.

Michael Wagner and his wife, Johanne elected to give the liver to Phuoc, whose medical need was deemed to be more urgent than her sister Binh.

Father and daughter had the surgery on February 10th, posting a series of emotional photographs of the moment they saw each other again after waking up.


Having launched an appeal to find a donor match for little Binh, the family is updating well-wishers on their progress on a dedicated Facebook page ‘Liver Transplants for our Vietnamese Twin Girls’.

Speaking during a press conference, Johanne said: “We knew from the beginning that the two of them would not receive [a liver] at the same time, and we were fine with that,”

“We are very confident that Binh will get her turn, and at the same time extremely grateful that Phuoc got hers.”


According to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto,  more than 400 potential donors have applied and doctors hope to find a match for Binh in the coming weeks. In living-donor liver transplants, surgeons remove up to 70% a donor’s liver. Both the donor’s liver and the portion of the donor’s liver given to the recipient grow back to their full size within a few weeks.

In the meantime it’s been a grueling journey for the family. Yesterday the couple, who had seven children of their own before adopting Phuoc and Binh from an orphanage, posted the following update: “Michael still in hospital, Phuoc still on morphine, and mommy holding on on coffee. Still a fair amount of discomfort for Michael but he managed to visit his little girl two days in a row. This will be a long and slow recovery.”

Facebook: Liver Transplants for our Vietnamese Twin Girls