Liver Transplant Heals a North Texas Mother’s Pain

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DALLAS -- Lisa Barker, at the age of 25, was diagnosed with a rare blood disease that only one in a million folks get. It's called Budd-Chiari Syndrome. The only treatment that works is a liver transplant.

Barker was listed as a high priority 1-A patient. With doctors telling her she had just days to live, the gift of life came 10 hours later.

"And that miracle came from Courtney Sterling," Barker said.

Unfortunately, to save one life, another family had to say goodbye to their 15-year-old daughter.

"I was unconscious when my husband made the decision for Courtney to be a donor," Dawn Sterling, Courtney's mom, said.

The car accident that killed Courtney seriously injured her mother. When Dawn woke up in the hospital, she learned her other daughter and unborn grandson also died in the crash.

Six months after the devastating accident, the woman who received Courtney's liver reached out to say, "thank you."

"Lisa actually saved my life," Sterling explained. "Which was saved for the second time in 2014 after the wreck. I was in a very dark place after losing both of my girls and my grandson. It was probably in a week or two that I probably wouldn't be here anymore."

This time, the gift of life was a heartfelt letter.

"I would have gone that day to gotten a flight out to come meet her because it was just that important. Her letter was just so perfectly timed."

The pain of losing two daughters will never go away, but Dawn takes comfort in the fact that Lisa is now a part of her family.

"It's just really neat to be around Lisa and my other godchildren. It just brings my girls back to me," Sterling said.

"Just a beautiful relationship. She's our godmother and we're her godchildren, just like family now," Barker said.

Friday, the two women reunited at Baylor's Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center and revealed a flora-graph of Courtney that will be part of the National Donate Life float at the Parade of Roses on New Years Day.

And Courtney didn't just save Lisa Barker's life. Her organs were also donated to four other patients.

"I always say Courtney is my silent strength. She's with me everyday. I just see life differently. I wake up every single day and everyday is a gift," Barker said.

Yep, a gift that's way more meaningful than what most of us will be getting this holiday season.