Best friends become sisters through liver donation

Posted at 6:39 PM, Apr 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-21 18:39:30-04

Not everyone gets to meet the person who gave them a second chance at life. However, it's more possible if you have a living donor and if your donor happens to be your co-worker, best friend, and now liver sister.

Maikki Nekton first found out she was sick in June of 2014.

“I was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, which is PSC, and it quickly turned into Cholangiocarcinoma, which is a cancer of the bile ducts,” Nekton said.

She had a tumor inside of her liver. The only way she would beat cancer and PSC was is if she received a new liver. She was placed on the organ transplant waitlist.

“I would not have made it long enough. The waitlist was about 1.5 to 2 years,” said Nekton.

Doctors told her she had six months to live and her best chance at surviving was a living donor.

“Jenifer said very quickly, I'm going to do this,” said Nekton.

Her best friend Jenifer DeMattia visited Nekton at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where she underwent several tests. DeMattia’s liver was a match.

“I never thought I would be in a hotel room in Minnesota with Maikki crying because my liver was the right size,” said DeMattia.

While some can feel helpless at the hospital bedside of a loved one or friend, DeMattia was able to do something.

“Fortunately for me, it saved my life. And there are a lot of people on the transplant waiting list who never get that opportunity,” said Nekton.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), there are more than 118,000 people waiting for an organ. More than 110,000 people on that waitlist are in need of a kidney or liver.

Meanwhile 22 people die each day waiting for a transplant. Living donation could potentially save those lives.

It worked for Nekton and DeMattia who shortly after their operations started working together again. This time at The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland where they're known as the “liver sisters.”

"You're here for such a short time so what can you do? And being at Living Legacy, like Maikki said, it's a no-brainer,” DeMattia said.

April is Donate Life Month and April 21 is Be Seen in Green Day. Green represents the generosity of donors in making the decision to save someone's life.

If you'd like to learn more about “the liver sisters” click here or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

If you'd like to register as an organ donor you can do so at the MVA or by registering at