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Taylorsville Journal

Taylorsville resident advocates for living organ donation

Mar 09, 2023 11:12AM ● By Peri Kinder

Taylorsville resident Kristine Fogarty (left) donated a portion of her liver to her friend and co-worker Carrie Riggs as part of Intermountain Health’s living organ donation program. (Photo courtesy of Kristine Fogarty)

Kristine Fogarty didn’t even hesitate. When she learned her friend and co-worker Carrie Riggs needed a life-saving liver transplant, Fogarty went online to register as a living organ donor. No one in Riggs’ family could donate, but Fogarty’s bloodwork came back as a potential match.

“I told her, if you need someone to match you, I’ll do this because it’s important and it will save your life,” Fogarty said.

After researching living liver donation, Fogarty learned it would involve a six-week recovery where she’d need extensive support. Although the liver is the only organ that can regenerate, there was also a risk that her liver wouldn’t recover and she would need her own liver transplant.

The Taylorsville resident learned she was a match for Riggs in April 2022. What followed was a series of doctor appointments, screenings, MRIs – and fear. 

“I was terrified,” Fogarty said, “But I knew when I got that call that I had to do it. I had to face my fear and trust that there was a reason I matched this woman and I needed to save her life.”

The day of the surgery, in October 2022, Fogarty was numb with anxiety. She knew her friend was in the operating room next to hers, waiting for her liver. Fogarty held the anesthesiologist’s hand and asked him to take care of her. He promised he would. 

Both women were in ICU recovering that same evening, and within 24 hours Fogarty had walked to Riggs’ room to let her know she was fine. 

“I wanted her to know I was okay,” she said. “It was important on both levels. I needed to know she was okay, and I needed her to know I was good. She had some big fears about me doing this for her.”

Fogarty’s living liver donation was one of only 13 transplants done at Intermountain Health during 2022, a year when the facility performed a record-breaking 300 adult transplants, thanks to the generosity of organ donors, their families and a team of transplant caregivers.

The Intermountain Transplant Program performed a total of 104 liver, 159 kidney, 29 heart, and eight kidney/pancreas adult transplants last year, the fourth consecutive record-breaking year for the program.

“Living donors are incredible people,” Diane Alonso said, MD, transplant surgeon and former medical director of Intermountain Health’s abdominal transplant program. “They are often undergoing major surgery to give new life to their aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, neighbors – and sometimes to someone they don’t even know. They truly are giving the gift of life and we do our best to be great stewards of that gift.”

The uptick in transplants is due to generous donors, an increase in donor organ availability and advancements in technology and medicine. Liver transplants at Intermountain Health exceed the national average because they are able to match a wider range of donor organs to recipients. 

To learn more about organ donation or to register to become an organ donor, go to

Fogarty said although her experience was scary, she’d do it again if she could. She challenges others to look into becoming a living donor to give another person the opportunity to live.

“Do it. Save a life. Get this feeling of purpose in life that you helped be part of a miracle. There are so many people out there waiting,” she said. “Living donors are very rare. There were only 13 living donors for livers last year. There’s more people dying than 13. That’s why that number needs to change.”

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