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Power of Yes: Anna Pays It Forward for Her Liver Donor

By simply looking at Anna, it is impossible to know that she almost didn’t live past two-years-old. She would not be here without the generosity of a stranger.

Anna was born with biliary atresia and placed on the transplant waiting list when she was 13 months old. She wasn’t born with a complete biliary system, which consists of a gall bladder, bile ducts and a liver. All three parts work together to clean the blood. In her case, the bile did not drain out of her liver and was poisoning it. 

Fortunately, her family received a call on April 11, 2002. They found a liver donor, and Anna was rushed to the University of Minnesota Medical Center just 10 days after her second birthday. 

Since receiving her transplant, she has had very few complications and continues to honor her generous donor at the Transplant Games of America – a multi-sport festival event for individuals who have undergone life-saving transplant surgeries. Teams come from just about every state in the United States to compete in athletic events, from track and field to ballroom dancing. 

And, it’s more than just another athletic event; the Transplant Games of America highlight the critical importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation, while celebrating the lives of organ donors and recipients.  

Anna has participated in eight Transplant Games—every one since 2004 when she was just four years old. You’ll see Anna racing around the track, serving a volleyball, and teaming up to play pickle ball. She also looks forward to connecting with fellow organ recipients and friends from across the country, all while paying tribute to the donors who give the gift of life. 

“I’ve been able to participate in the Transplant Games…I’m playing a bunch of sports, doing well in school – it’s a pretty normal life.” 

Anna continues to play the sports she wants to without limitations. In high school, she made varsity in gymnastics and track, and lettered in both. 

Anna used to speak at Driver’s Education classes at her high school and loves to share her story. She frequently receives questions about any limitations and her scar, which she is proud to show off.  

If you’re not sure about organ donation or have questions, Anna encourages you to have conversations in your community about it. Find some of the top frequently asked questions here.

Anna’s transplant allows her to have a more appreciative outlook on life. Not a day goes by where she does not think of her donor and the gift they gave her. 

Where is Anna Now?

Anna is now a junior in college, where she is double majoring in Politics & Government and Sociology & Anthropology. She continues to excel at her studies and is also a member of her college track and field team. She is passionate about social justice and volunteers to help others who are in need. Most importantly, her health has been excellent all thanks to the generous donor who saved her life.