21-year-old woman waiting for liver at Cleveland Clinic dies after transplant surgery

CLEVELAND - The 21-year-old Ohio woman in need of a liver transplant died Monday afternoon.

Chelsea Lingenfelter was diagnosed with a rare kind of liver cancer at the age of 4 and received a partial transplant from her mother. But over the years, complications left the organ scarred and damaged, meaning only a full-size liver would help.

"I've just been really waiting a long time," she said earlier this month from her room at the Cleveland Clinic, where she spent more than a year. Family and friends calling themselves "Team Chelsea" organized fundraisers on her behalf. "I'm so thankful… It's amazing.

The family received an offer for a liver and got the all-clear that it was a perfect match Monday morning. She went into surgery at about 10 a.m.

"While we are ecstatic at the possibilities, we are also humbled that none of this would be possible if there wasn't a family out there suffering with the loss of a loved one. Our hearts, prayers, and deepest gratitude go out to them as we begin our long night of worry and anticipation," the family posted on her website .

Chelsea's mother, Joni Lingenfelter, knew that in order for her daughter to survive, another family would have to experience a loss.

"We're hoping to find maybe a family in a horrible situation for themselves right now that maybe have already made that decision for themselves that yes, they want to be an organ donor," she told NewsChannel5's Deb Lee in early February. "And if they would happen to be O negative blood type and small body stature, if they would consider possibly donating the liver directly to Chelsea."

Chelsea died at 2:43 p.m. on Monday, her family said.

Nationally, more than 116,000 people are waiting for organ transplants. For more information about organ donation, go to http://lifebanc.org

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