From the moment Sanija Tigangi came into the world, things were not right. At birth, doctors told her mother, Elzana, that Sanija had a failing liver.
Sanija Tigangi and mom ElzanaOver the next several months, the Tigangis made repeat visits to the hospital as doctors performed a battery of tests and monitored Sanija's condition. Six months later, Elzana and her husband were informed that they would "need to stay in the hospital." They stayed for over a month while Sanija's condition continued to deteriorate. "We were waiting for her to die," recalls Elzana.
Sanija would need a liver transplant. No donor was available. The staff at Yale New Haven asked Elzana if she would be willing to be a living donor. Elzana was terrified at the prospect. She didn't even realize that there was such a thing as a living donor when it came to liver transplants. Friends and relatives were concerned for her own life, but Elzana was determined to do whatever she could to save her daughter's life.
The procedure, performed by Dr. Sukru Emre, involved replacing Sanija's defective liver with a section of her mother's healthy liver. Because the liver has the ability to regenerate, the section inside Sanija would grow and develop into a fully functioning organ. Meanwhile, Elzana's liver would regenerate as well. Few hospitals in the country have the ability to coordinate the procedures involved with a living liver donor. Says Elzana, "the transplant team, everybody was amazing. Everybody."