Health Team

Cary woman promotes organ donation in Rose Parade

Posted January 6, 2012

— A Cary woman who was among the country’s first infants to receive a donor liver rode a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade this week to help promote organ donation.

“I usually don't cry at events like these. I'm usually not a crier at all, but I ended up breaking down a little bit,” said Kara Thio, now 20.

When she was born in September 1991, Thio's skin was yellow and she had trouble with her liver, which was missing a bile duct. During the next eight months, her condition grew desperate, and she needed a liver transplant.

“Back in '92, pediatric liver transplants were really new,” said Victoria Thio, Kara Thio’s mother.

Cary woman was early organ recipient Cary woman was early organ recipient

UNC Hospitals had just begun pediatric transplants at that time, but they weren't ready to try them on babies as small as Kara, her mother said. So, the family looked elsewhere and selected California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

Kara Thio's new chance at life was made possible by the family of Evan Samata, of Illinois, who died at 2 1/2. On the two families' second meeting four years ago, Kara Thio was old enough to appreciate their special gift.

“They embraced me, and they completely welcomed me, and they told me that their son was here tonight because I was here, and that was just really special,” she said.

Kara Thio says she keeps in touch with the Samata family and has sent them some of her drawings.

Carolina Donor Services selected Kara Thio to represent them in the parade. For more information about being a donor, visit the group’s website.


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  • ICTrue Jan 12, 2012

    Give til it hurts, ghimmy51

  • ghimmy51 Jan 10, 2012

    I'm a donor but I'm pretty thoroughly using up all my parts it seems. Sigh.

  • AnneM71 Jan 9, 2012

    God bless you and your donor family! I thank God for the family that donated their daughters kidneys 8 years ago. So to all the families that make that decision! Good for you!

  • Uhavenoclu Jan 6, 2012

    Good for you,as a recipient myself,we know how important it is and that organ donation is the only donation you can give that you know and can see the results.
    If people think their lives didn't amount to anything because of their finances or they didn't get to where they wanted,be an organ donor for your life would amount to more then any materialistic thing could amount to.
    To all the ones who have donated and will donate Thank you.
    You and many more are lucky for you have contacted and keep in contact with your donors family....For me I've been in perfect health since my operation,better then all the years before but the hardest thing for me has been to write a thank you letter and get in contact with my donors family i'm hoping I will write it soon.

  • Big Mike Jan 6, 2012

    Good for her...I say why take it with you when you can help preserve the life of another? I signed up as donor years ago to save a life one day when it's check out time. And I promise..I won't feel a thing!