Vanessa Negrete Donates Part Of Her Liver To Save 1-Year-old Daughter In Landmark Arizona Surgery

05/04/2012 02:32 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2012

An Arizona mom has saved the life of her 1-year-old daughter by donating a section of her liver in a rare surgery, KVOA reports.

When Vanessa Negrete's daughter, Aliyah, was about 2-and-a-half months old, she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable liver condition called biliary atresia. Affecting one out of every 10,000 to 15,000 births, the condition impairs the liver's ability to secrete bile, causing cirrhosis and jaundice.

Without a liver transplant, Aliyah could not have survived, KGUN9-TV reports.

"We had been waiting for a liver from a deceased donor for several months for Aliyah, but none that was appropriate became available," said University of Arizona transplant surgeon Rainer W.G. Gruessner. "In order to halt Aliyah’s health from deteriorating any further, the decision was made to use a living donor."

Aliyah's mom turned out to be the perfect match.

"I always prayed to God, I wanted it to be me. It just changes your life," Negrete told KVOA this week.

During the liver transplant procedure, which took place in March, surgeons took about 25 percent of Negrete's liver -- of which a large portion is expected to regenerate itself. The organ was then transplanted into Aliyah by a team of five surgeons.

According to Health News Digest, this was Arizona's first adult-to-child living donor liver transplant operation. Doctors say that the surgery has set an exciting new precedent for pediatric patients requiring organ transplants.

“The ability to perform living-related liver transplants makes us less dependent on the short supply of deceased donor organs,” said Gruessner.

Both mom and child are doing well post-surgery.

"Right now, she's really happy. She smiles. She's going to be really good," Negrete told KGUN9-TV.

Note: Though KGUN9-TV has spelled Vanessa Negrete's first name as 'Venessa', we have followed the spelling used by the majority of news agencies covering this story.

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