HealthBeat4: Siouxland girl saved by rare liver transplant - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

HealthBeat4: Siouxland girl saved by rare liver transplant


According to health officials at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, more than 16,000 people across the nation are waiting for liver transplants. In HealthBeat4, KTIV sits down with a Siouxland girl who had to fight to get her name on that list.

Pressley Cochran-Bray, 13, from Spirit Lake, Iowa was diagnosed in November with hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer typically found in adults.

"It was really scary for me, cause I've never been in a hospital before. I've never been severely sick," said Pressley.

Days after her diagnosis, Pressley began many intense sessions of chemotherapy, which shrunk the tumor to almost nothing. However, the threat to her life wasn't over.

Without a new liver, Pressley's doctor, Julie Heimbach from the Mayo Clinic, said the cancer could grow back. The problem, getting Pressley on the donor recipient list because her type of cancer is not typically accepted for transplantation.

"There's a tremendous shortage of potential donors for all of the people that need transplants," said Heimbach. "So, that's why there has to be a system of allocation and a decision making board to decide who can be on the list and what order the list should be."

After several denials from the United Network for Organ Sharing. Pressley's care team took matters into their own hands.

"So my doctors advocated for me," said Pressley.

The team was able to convince the Regional Review Board and ultimately the National Review Board to grant Pressley an exception status, allowing her to move forward with receiving an organ.

"We were successful in getting it, and seven days after that status came official, Pressley received a liver and that changed everything," said Bill Cochran-Bray, Pressley's dad.

"I was so happy, but at the same time I was so scared," said Pressley.

Nearly two months later, Pressley left the hospital with a new liver.

"So happy to be on that side of the whole process because it was the goal," said Coral Cochran-Bray, Pressley's mom. "And in the very beginning it was, as Bill said, very grave, and we knew that we had to have a new liver to live."

"There's always opportunities for problems that can happen after transplant, but we're very optimistic based on how everything has gone so far that she could have a really good long term outcome," said Dr. Heimbach. "The liver doesn't seem to wear out, so we're hoping she's going to have this liver for the rest of her life."

"I'm feeling like I never had cancer before," said Pressley. "I'm feeling absolutely great!"

Health officials at the Mayo Clinic said a single organ donor can save a number of lives. For more information on becoming a donor, visit the DMV or the Organ Donor web page.

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