Columbia Patient Donates Left Lobe of Liver to Her Fiancé

When Megan Ellerd and Steven Ferretti met seven years ago, it was "instant love," she says. Not long after, the young couple found out that Steven had autoimmune hepatitis — but they didn't worry too much about it, hoping that it wouldn't affect them until much later in life. In 2008, however, the two were happily engaged when Steven's condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. His liver was failing, and he needed a transplant.

Although Steven had severe liver disease and was experiencing painful symptoms such as ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen), he would have had to become deathly ill in order to qualify for a donor organ from the transplant waiting list. For a couple with a wedding to plan and a bright future ahead, the prospect of Steven spending many months, if not years, in progressively worsening health was just not an option. For Megan, the choice was clear. She had known from the beginning that she would donate part of her liver to him if she could — and when testing confirmed she was a good match, that's exactly what she did.

Painting by Megan Ellerd after she donated part of her liver to Steven Ferretti.On January 6, 2011, the team at the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Liver Transplant Program transplanted Megan's left lobe to Steven, an operation that not only saved his life, but spared him the ordeal of becoming even sicker while waiting for a liver from the organ donor waitlist. Benjamin Samstein, MD, Surgical Director of the Liver Transplant Program, and Lorna Dove, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Adult Liver Transplantation, are happy to report that the transplantation was a success, and that Steven and Megan have both made excellent recoveries.

Both Steven and Megan have been transformed by the experience; they speak of their gratitude for the support they received from their loving families, and of a newfound appreciation for life. Thanks to the team at Columbia, and to each other, they're now thinking of having kids and possibly starting a new business. Whatever they decide, they're fortunate to be able to do it in good health, and together.