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Amanda - Liver Transplant Patient

Amanda had never heard of Wilson's disease. She'd never known anyone who'd had an organ transplant. So to say Amanda was surprised when Wilson's disease caused her to have a dramatic emergency liver transplant is understatement.

Amanda was an athletic, 18-year-old who excelled in academics, volleyball and softball at Carlinville High School in Illinois. Persistent abdominal pain sent her to her doctor shortly before Christmas 2004. Her doctor suspected stomach flu. But when test results indicated liver dysfunction, he sent Amanda to Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The Washington University School of Medicine gastroenterology department has long been known for its expertise at diagnosing, treating and researching genetic diseases of the gastrointestinal system. The department's hepatology team at Barnes-Jewish diagnosed Amanda as having Wilson's disease, the rare genetic disorder in which the body fails to excrete copper, allowing it to build up and damage the liver.

Amanda's liver failed. The liver transplant team determined that Amanda needed a liver transplant. "I was almost in disbelief," Amanda said. "I was scared."

When her vital signs suddenly crashed and her kidneys failed, she was rushed into intensive care. A donor liver was located outside of Missouri. In a rare procedure to save Amanda's life, liver transplant surgeon Dr. Surendra Shenoy removed her dying liver, hoping to stabilize her condition. Dr. Korenblat, Dr. Shenoy and their team monitored Amanda throughout the night, waiting for the donor liver to arrive at Barnes-Jewish.

After the transplant surgery, Amanda was kept in a drug-induced coma to allow her to heal from her catastrophic illness. Five days later, she awakened, asking, "Did I have the transplant?"

Within weeks, she returned to high school and earned a position as a starter on the school's varsity softball team.

Amanda graduated five months after her transplant as one of the co-valedictorians of her class. She attends the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, and on earning her pharmacy degree, hopes to get a job at Barnes-Jewish Hospital on the transplant team - where she can help others as she was helped. 

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