The Norman Transcript

Homepage

January 23, 2014

2 sisters get lung transplants from same donor

HOUSTON — They quibble, joke and share knowing looks, finishing each other’s thoughts and making snide comments — like many sisters. But a recent argument was unlike any other they’ve had, and it ended in a surprising way.

For months, 71-year-old Irma Myers-Santana and her younger sister, Anna Williamson, 69, had been debating who more urgently needed a lung transplant, each wanting the other to go first. Earlier this month, though, the sisters ended up in the same operating room, each getting one lung from the same donor in what doctors at Houston Methodist Hospital say is a first for their facility.

“It’s never happened. ... We’ve transplanted siblings before, but years apart,” said Dr. Scott Scheinin, who did Myers-Santana’s transplant. “It’s a little bit of serendipity.”

The sisters both became ill about 10 years ago with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Doctors, assisted by a computer program, look at blood type, height and severity of illness to match a donor and a transplant patient. The likelihood that Myers-Santana and Williamson would meet all three criteria at the same time was small, Scheinin said.

The sisters’ situation was further complicated because they insisted on a “bloodless transplant.” They are Jehovah’s Witnesses and do not believe in receiving blood transfusions. They live in California, but Houston Methodist Hospital is the only facility in the country that does such transplants.

Until the transplant, Williamson coughed all day and had to be attached to an oxygen tank constantly. About a year ago, her doctor told her she needed a transplant.

So, Williamson and her husband headed down to Houston 10 months ago.

Within six months, Myers-Santana, who had a sudden, violent decline in her health and could barely breathe, joined Williamson, hoping she, too, would be a viable candidate for that type of transplant.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines

Sports
Opinion

Features

Must Read

Big 12 Media Days
Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Business

Photos


Facebook