PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Katherine Strickland and Anna Fischman underwent liver transplants as babies 35 years ago. On Friday, the women reunited for the first time in two decades, this time with their own families.
The organ transplant happened in 1987 when there were so many unknowns. Three decades later, they inspire others.
Strickland and Fischman were reunited on Friday, now as wives and mothers, and that was something that was never assured.
“It’s been a long road for both of us,” Strickland said.
Strickland and Fischman’s parents met in the hospital and bonded through the transplant process, as did the girls.
“We were small,” Fischman said, “but we formed such a special bond. It’s such a unique thing to experience, and we stayed in touch.”
As children, they shared beach vacations, but ended up living in different states as adults. They communicated mainly by SMS.
“It’s so wonderful that a friend had the same experience,” Fischman said.
They both have kids now who met for the first time on Friday.
Fischman and Strickland are part of the Transplant Pregnancy Registry, which helps patients start a family.
“As long as their organ is working well and they’re on pregnancy-safe medication, they’re doing very well with pregnancy after the transplant,” said Lisa Coscia of the Transplant Pregnancy Registry. “So I think people don’t even know that’s a possibility.”
Here reunited for the first time in 20 years with their families sharing an early celebratory meal at the Gift of Life House in Philadelphia, their gratitude still extends to the families of the donors who made it all possible.
“Making a selfless decision to save other lives during their time of grief,” Strickland said.
Both are living examples of the gift of life. These transplant patients are now friends for life.
“She’s such a loving and just strong woman,” Strickland said. “There aren’t enough good things I can say about Anna.”
The Transplant Pregnancy Registry has an ongoing study following nearly 5,000 transplant patients into parenthood since 1991.