Clark County Press, Neillsville, Clark Co., WI

May 11, 2011, Front Page

Contact: Dolores Mohr Kenyon


Mother and daughter grow closer after transplant


Heather Murphy (left) and her mother, Mary Jane Mabie, pose Tuesday, May 3, one day before the 10th anniversary of Murphy donating her liver to her mother. Both have enjoyed a decade of good health, a close-knit relationship and helping others.  (Photo by Peter Spicer/Clark County Press) 

By Peter Spicer

Just over 10 years ago, Neillsville’s Heather Murphy risked her life to save her mother’s life, which brought them closer than ever and helped them enjoy each of life’s moments.

Murphy’s mother, Mary Jane Mabie - who resides in Neillsville with her husband Steve - learned in 2000 her liver was failing and that she needed a transplant. At the time, over 2,000 people who needed liver transplants were on a waiting list for cadaver livers, said Mabie.

However, Mabie’s family had their blood tested to find out if it matched Mabie’s blood.  Both Steve and Murphy’s blood matched, which prompted them to decide - without their mother present - who would donate their liver.  Heather, being younger offered to donate a portion of her liver that would save her mother’s life. 

The live liver transplant was a "fairly new procedure at the time," according to Mabie.

The live liver transplant was done at the UW-Hospital in Madison and was just the fourth surgery of that kind completed, explained Mabie, who added the three other individuals who received live liver transplants before her are now deceased.

"The stars had to align perfectly" for the surgery to be held, explained Murphy, who added her mother’s liver needed to be in good shape the day of the surgery; Murphy’s health also needed to be perfect after undergoing months of tests.

Before the surgeries took place, doctors told Mabie she had just three months to live if she didn’t have the transplant.  Mabie stated doctors gave her a 17-percent chance of not surviving the transplant and added her daughter had an 11-percent chance of dying during the surgery.

Mabie stated she was most scared about surviving the transplant and her daughter not surviving it.

The live liver transplant was done May 4, 2001; approximately six months after Mabie learned she would need the transplant.  The surgery lasted seven hours for Murphy and 14 hours for Mabie. Murphy donated the right lobe of her liver, which has now grown back.  Mabie’s liver was removed before receiving Murphy’s liver.

The transplant is like the "Mount Everest" of surgeries, said Mabie, who explained many veins and arteries are in that area.

Both Mabie and Murphy praised doctors for helping make the transplant successful.  However, Mabie stated she had a "very, very rough recovery" after the surgery and was hospitalized for awhile.  

When Mabie was released from the hospital, she and Murphy stayed at a nearby hotel in case Mabie’s health began to fail.  Mabie also needed to begin taking approximately 65 pills per day.

"Everything was so overwhelming" said Mabie, who remembers viewing pill containers sprawled across an entire hotel bed.

Mabie’s tight-knit family and relationship with her daughter, which Murphy said was always close even before the ordeal, helped get her through the past decade, as well as  the Neillsville’s community’s outpouring of support.

When they left the hotel, Murphy discovered someone paid for the entire two-week stay.  Mabie still has the three grocery bags full of cards she received after the surgery and still remembers the meals people brought to her and the fundraiser held to cover expenses. 

Mabie stated a senior citizen baked cookies for her up until approximately two years ago.  Community members continue to care about Mabie’s health. 

"At least two [people] ask [me about my health] every trip to the grocery store," Mabie explained.

Mabie is on medication to continue fooling her body into accepting the liver and wants to "Keep [the liver] as status quo."

Mabie stated it’s rare she’s gone 10 years with "not one episode of rejection."

Murphy was soon up to normal after the surgery and has enjoyed good health since the transplant.

Mabie - who is "down" to 31 pills per day - and Murphy both cherish every day they’re alive and are closer than ever because of the transplant.  Murphy married her husband, Mike, in 2009 and designated her mother as her maid of honor. 

Mabie, who has one other daughter, Tara, enjoys her four grandchildren and plans to celebrate her 40th wedding anniversary with Steve this July; she also takes time to enjoy small things, such as blue skies and green grass.

Murphy and Mabie are grateful for the support they’ve received from others and take the time to help others and "Pay it forward," according to Murphy.

 People who heard Murphy and Mabie’s story thanked Murphy for opening their eyes to the importance of living each day to its fullest.

"People are compelled by this [story]," said Murphy.

 Mabie stated going through the transplant allowed her to "begin seeing things the way they should be."  

A tight-knit relationship between a mother and daughter who enjoy each day and give back to others is indeed the way things should be.





© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel