Transplant recipient grateful for second chance emails surgeon updates on her life

Melissa Varner
April 02, 2019
Elizabeth and her dad show off their scars
Elizabeth and her dad show off their scars

The scars on Elizabeth Walter’s abdomen tell her amazing story. The inverted Y-shaped scar is from the liver transplant that saved her life when she was just 4 years old. Her dad gave her part of his liver in a 16-hour operation at MUSC on Nov. 6, 2000. It was the first living donor liver transplant in South Carolina history.

Her newest scar is also from emergency surgery – a cesarean section to deliver her baby boy, Carter, last summer.

Elizabeth and her newborn son, Carter

“I never thought I would be able to have kids after my transplant, especially since they were not sure why my liver had failed in the first place,” Elizabeth said. “When I found that I was pregnant with my son I emailed Dr. Baliga and told him.”

Dr. Prabhakar Baliga was part of the transplant team that operated on Elizabeth and her father all those years ago. Elizabeth has kept in touch with Baliga by email.

“If I have a big accomplishment in my life I'll just email him, ‘Hey, I just wanted to let you know such and such happened,’” Elizabeth said. It’s her way of saying thank you. “I'm just really grateful.”

Baliga loves hearing from his former patient.

“As a surgeon, to see a child grow up from being in the jaws of death to lead a normal lifestyle, it’s very gratifying,” Baliga said. “Every time I get those updates of her life -- that she’s winning track, going to complete high school, going to college, she's had a child -- these are major, major milestones on a person's life and it's all extremely positive. It's wonderful to hear that.”

Elizabeth is now planning for her next milestone – her wedding in June. She’s excited to share her latest update with Dr. Baliga, but this time it won’t be coming through email.

“We're going to send them an invitation. So I don’t know whether they'll be able to come up, but we’re going to send them an invitation.”


About the Author

Melissa Varner