Sister donates part of liver to sick brother

by Brad Johansen, WKRC, Tuesday, November 1st 2016

CINCINNATI (WKRC) – When the subject of successful organ transplants comes up, we usually think of someone who had to die to make that happen. We rarely hear stories of living organ transplants.

But one woman who studied all her life about how to keep your body in shape to be at your best was placed in a life-or-death test that would save her brother’s life.

Courtney Schaiper’s degree is in athletic training. She amped up on Crossfit two-and-a-half years ago about the same time she amped up jobs, moving from injury prevention at Children’s Hospital to one with more stress than she had imagined.

Courtney is now the transplant coordinator for Life Center Cincinnati.

“We show up when someone’s world is falling apart,” said Courtney. “Their loved one gets to live on and share that gift for very long time.”

That stress, lack of sleep and the emotional toll was creating doubt about her career choice. Then the phone rang. Again, another transplant was needed.

However, this time it wasn’t a stranger. Instead, it was her big brother Brian. A benign mass had developed on his liver, and the married father of two needed a lifesaving match. Courtney turned out to be that match.

Courtney’s only sibling is much more than a brother to her. When Courtney was just 2 months old, her father Alan died in a tragic accident, leaving Brian as the only man of the house when he was just 3 years old.

“I want to be the one to save my brother’s life. He’s been a father figure for me, and I want his sons to experience what I did growing up,” Courtney said.

Courtney got a going-away party from an office that knows what a hero looks like. Now, the one whose job it is to ask others to be heroes was ready to head west with a lifesaving gift for Brian, who was in need of something only his little sister could provide.

“It means the word to me,” said Brian Schaiper. “Go in tomorrow and they say I need a liver–she’s going to be able to give it to me.”

The surgery became an emergency procedure, the mass on Brian’s liver weighing between 10 and 13 pounds. He’s lucky to still be alive and lucky Courtney was in the room next door for the 10 hour transplant surgery.

The girl who grew up without a father gave the missing piece so her nephews, Brody and Milo, could grow up with theirs.

“This is the greatest thing I could ever give back to him,” Courtney said.

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