Alyssa Smith Riggan hands her nearly seven-month son to her mother, Teresa, and takes to the podium to address a room full of the world’s top liver specialists. Baby pictures, school portraits, and wedding photos flank both sides of the podium. With each new rite of passage flicking across the screen, someone in the crowd of medical specialists draws in a sharp breath.
It isn’t that Alyssa’s photos or experiences are unusual – quite the opposite. It’s the mere suggestion of normalcy that elicits a response from even the most stoic of doctors in the audience. Alyssa is the first-ever living donor liver transplant recipient in the United States, and 30 years later, these milestones take on a whole new meaning of hope.
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