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Sand Springs middle school principal receives liver transplant with only a few hours left to live

Louise Pond, the Clyde Boyd Elementary School principal in Sand Springs, suffered from acute liver failure and was hours from death when Oklahoma City doctors performed a liver transplant that saved her life.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: October 4, 2012

/articleid/3715830/1/pictures/1849893">Photo - Photo by Jim Beckel, THE OKLAHOMAN
Photo by Jim Beckel, THE OKLAHOMAN

“Every hour, her pressure was going down. We were going up and up and up on her medications to keep her alive, and we had to decide — do we really bring that liver from San Antonio to here?”

If Pond wasn't alive when they got back, that meant they might have to fly the liver back to San Antonio. And by that time, the liver would have spent more than six hours on ice.

Some transplant centers won't take a liver older than that. That could mean that no one would get the liver.

“We were really dealing with two lives in a way — Mrs. Pond's life and somebody else in San Antonio — and we had to make that call,” Sebastian said.

The Oklahoma medical team decided they wanted to try to save Pond.

After the surgery, there was no guarantee Pond would wake up. She was still in a coma under anesthesia. Her blood pressure was under control, but she was still in kidney and respiratory failure.

“But we knew we had changed which direction she was going,” Sebastian said. “She was headed toward death. Now we knew if we had put that liver in time, we were convinced her other organs would recover — and that's what happened.”

Liver transplantation has one of the best prognoses. But before the transplant, a liver failure patient has a 90 percent chance of dying.

“That's the miracle of transplantation that we see,” Sebastian said. “We were all really, really thrilled.”

High expectations

When Pond woke up from the surgery two days later, one of her first question was, “Have I been fired from my job?”

Pond's boss described her as an unbelievable warrior and a respected leader.

Pond has worked for the Sand Springs School District more than 30 years. A Sand Springs native, she graduated from Charles Page High School in 1973.

Sand Springs Superintendent Lloyd Snow said she is a steady person who gives clear messages to her students. They know what to expect, and they respect her.

“She's always urging those kids to be at their best,” Snow said. “I think it's that kind of will and that kind of attitude that's certainly helping her as she recovers from an unbelievable health crisis.

“Recovery comes when you have strength and attitude and expectation, and I think she brings that to that school site at a time when those youngsters are full of energy, and she tries to channel that into positive and productive energy and has high expectations of them.”

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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