The agonising decision no family should have to make

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Imagine your children are gravely ill and you find out you are an organ donor match who can save their lives – but the catch is, you can help only one of them. That is the awful reality faced by a Canadian family whose adopted three-year-old twin daughters both need new livers to survive.

Binh and Phuoc’s dad, Michael Wagner, has learned his liver is compatible with his daughters, who both have the genetic disorder Alagille syndrome. The girls’ livers, which have fewer bile ducts than normal, are slowly dying. Without transplants, the livers will fail.

But doctors have told Mr Wagner he can donate only part of his liver to only one daughter.


Unable to choose which girl to save, Mr Wagner and wife Johanne have asked doctors at Toronto General Hospital to make the heartbreaking choice for them before the transplant in about two weeks. And they have gone public with their plight, setting up a Facebook page in a desperate bid to find a donor for the other twin.

The girls were adopted from a Vietnamese orphanage at 18 months old, joining the Wagners’ own five children and two other adopted kids. Ms Wagner tells Huffington Post the couple knew early on that the girls had liver problems, but didn’t know the extent.

“When we saw them at the orphanage we were shocked, really,” she says. “They were nine pounds (4.08kg) at 18 months. So we left the orphanage that day and went to buy two little containers with dragonflies on them and that’s what we were going to lay their ashes in if they didn’t make it.”


Ms Wagner says the girls are developmentally delayed because of their ill health, wear feeding tubes and suffer from terrible itchiness, but continue to play and enjoy life like other children their age.

“We look back and we have no regrets,” Ms Wagner says. “We would travel this path all over again. They have taught us openness, they have taught our children sharing and openness. It’s been nothing but a wonderful mess.”

(Images via Facebook)

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

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