Liver transplant story spans 2 decades, 2 states with same surgeon

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DENVER – Richard Farrell’s liver transplant story spans two states and two decades, but it came full circle with a doctor in Denver.

The 52-year-old just received his second liver transplant. Both surgeries were performed by Dr. Tom Heffron.

The two met 20 years ago in Atlanta when Farrell’s liver failed at age 33, even though he was not a drinker or drug user.

“His liver failed emergently and he needed a liver in a day or two to survive,” Heffron.

Amazingly, a donated liver became available in time, and Heffron performed the transplant procedure in Georgia.

Farrell responded well and reached his goal of watching his daughters graduate.

He eventually needed a kidney transplant after all the medication.

Then, this fall he had some additional trouble and reached out once again to Heffron, who is now head of transplantation at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver.

Farrell flew to Denver and within days, his color was changing. It was clear he needed another liver transplant and once again, somehow, a liver became available within days.

“We feel very lucky because we don’t control when we get a liver,” Heffron said.

“It’s very remarkable, very remarkable that I’m here,” Farrell said.

His new goal is to be able to watch both his daughters get married.

Both Farrell and Heffron hope more people will consider becoming organ donors.