Eight months into her pregnancy, Leiauna Anderson lost her child, and she almost lost her life as well. It took a liver transplant to save her.
When Leiauna's pregnancy ended tragically with the in utero death of her baby, doctors discovered that her liver had been badly damaged by gestational hypertension. She was transferred to UCLA and placed on the list for an emergency transplant. Three days later, the surgical team, headed by Ronald Busuttil, MD, replaced Leiauna's liver with a healthy organ from a 19-year-old woman who had died in an accident.
Although she was told she could no longer bear children, Leiauna and her husband now have a son, conceived in vitro and carried by a sister-in-law. Today, she counts herself fortunate to be alive. "An organ truly is the gift of life," she says. "Because of the gift of a donated organ, I was able to live, and so was our son, Rex."
Besides motherhood, Leiauna makes time to be an ambassador for organ donation, educating others about the importance of donating organs. "There are over 100,000 people waiting for organs--that's more people than can fit into the Rose Bowl! Everyday people are added, and everyday people die who are waiting for organs," she said.
Leiauna's liver transplant is among the nearly 5,000 that have been performed at UCLA since the Liver Transplant Program was started here 25 years ago. Today, the UCLA program is the largest and most active in the country.