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Nusayba's Story

Three hours before journalist and media commentator Wajahat Ali was set to give a TED Talk about why more people should have children, he got the diagnosis: the masses in his 2-year-old daughter Nusayba’s liver were signs of Stage 4 cancer.

Wajahat, who contributes to the New York Times and CNN, was in Canada when his wife, Sarah Kureshi, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor and Family Medicine physician at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, called to tell him Nusayba was in the hospital. After two months of intense chemotherapy, Nusayba was approved as a candidate for a liver transplant (including being a good candidate for a living donor transplant). Wajahat and Sarah quickly went to work finding their daughter’s living donor.

Via twitter, Wajahat had identified an acquaintance, Megan Black, who was willing to donate a piece of her liver. But before the surgery, Thomas Fishbein, MD, executive director of the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute and Nusayba’s surgeon, saw a complication that delayed surgery.

Wajahat and Sarah then went back to Twitter, Facebook, and the media to share that they urgently needed a liver donor to save their daughter’s life. And people—strangers—lined up to be living donors for Nusayba. In total over 500 people applied to be living donors.

Shawn Zahir became Nusayba’s donor. Dr. Fishbein and Dr. Guerra shared with Wajahat and Sarah that when most people wake up they say, "When can I get back to work? When can I play sports?" The first question Shawn asked was, "When can I donate blood again?" Nusayba got the liver of an exceptional man.

The surgeries went well for both Nusayba and Shawn. Below is a video of Nusayba leaving MedStar Georgetown post-transplant being cheered on by her parents and pediatric nurses.

Post-transplant Nusayba went on to complete chemotherapy and here’s the video of her ‘ringing the bell,’ which indicates she completed her treatment, and then running into the arms of her donor, Shawn.

A stranger’s response to an appeal on Twitter saved Nusayba’s life and now you can help too. 

Within the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute, we want to provide hope and life-restoring care to more patients like Nusayba. The living donation program within the institute provides an opportunity for ordinary people to do the extraordinary--save the life of another person by donating a kidney or part of their liver. Click here for more information about this program.

Please make a donation in honor of Nusayba’s care and help save the lives of other patients like her.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

Funds will be directed to the Center for Living Donation, which will provide support for travel, expand our accommodations for donors and families traveling long distances, updating patient rooms and providing multifaceted support for our living donor pairs.