When Roda Barnes met a new friend Monday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, she invited her into her room on the hospital floor reserved for transplant patients.
“Come on in, Roda!” Barnes said.
She wasn't talking to herself. Barnes not three minutes earlier had embraced Bettina Dixon, a woman half her age whose abdomen now cradles the other half of the donor liver that Barnes received. On April 3, the women shared the organ in a very rare split-liver surgery performed by Dr. Christopher Anderson and Dr. Mark Earl.
Neither woman had set eyes on each other, had shared stories or hugs or sheer joy with each other, until a week after their surgery, when Dixon walked three doors down the hall to Barnes' room.
“I've been wondering about you this whole time,” Barnes, a 46-year-old medical laboratory worker from Vicksburg, told Dixon, 22, a Byram resident and student at Jones County Junior College.
“You look really good,” Barnes told Dixon. “You do, too,” said Dixon, who proclaimed them “sisters for life.”