2 patients receive new hearts, livers, kidneys in back-to-back triple transplants

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two patients underwent the same rare surgeries at UChicago Medicine, marking a medical milestone.

Sarah McPharlin, from Michigan, and Daru Smith, a truck driver from Chicago's South Side, had never met until a few months ago. They found something in common at the University of Chicago Medical Center: They both needed a new chance at life.

McPharlin came to the UChicago Medical Center after doctors in her home state said they couldn't help her.

"I was just thrilled that there was, like, a chance," she said.

As luck would have it, doctors got a call from Smith, who needed the same exact procedure, as McPharlin's medical team was prepping.

"It reached a time that the heart was failing, the kidney was failing and the liver was failing," said Dr. Nir Uriel.

Both patients needed a new heart, liver and kidney, and both patients received organ donations at the same time. A team of surgeons got to work, performing back-to-back transplants within 27 hours.

This is the first time a U.S. hospital has performed more than one of these complex procedures in such a short period of time.

The two 29-year-olds spoke with ABC7 Eyewitness News via video camera Friday as they recovered.

"It's been mind-blowing and amazing," Smith said. "I think it was amazing that I was able to be here a month and a half and receive all three organs that I needed."

"I'm feeling wonderful. I haven't had this much energy in a very long time," McPharlin said.
Doctors said McPharlin could be discharged in a few days, and Smith could go home in a week.

"I've just been very grateful for all the opportunities that I've had since my first transplant," McPharlin said. "I'm looking forward to creating a lot more."

Smith is looking forward to going home to his 3-year-old son.

"He called me every day and (told) me, 'Daddy, I'm Catboy. I'm going to use my superfast speed to come save you and get you out of there!'" Smith said.

Both patients said they plan to have a group dinner with both of their families to celebrate.
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