Cary woman promotes organ donation in Rose Parade
Posted January 6, 2012
Cary, N.C. — 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.
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.