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Bob Jones grad who gave liver to fellow alumna to be honored during donation awareness event

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Bob Jones grads liver transfer

Margaret Stegall (left) donated a portion of her liver to a fellow Bob Jones University alum, Janet Thorin (right) after seeing a Facebook plea for help. A June 29 Facebook post on the Bob Jones University alumni page helped connect the two. File/Provided

GREENVILLE — Margaret Stegall knew she had to do more than simply hit "like" on a Facebook post pleading for someone to donate a piece of their liver to a person in need.

She eventually was confirmed as a match before heading to Denver to go under the knife for a fellow Bob Jones University alumna.

What she didn't know was how the transplant surgery would go, how it might affect her body or how long the recovery could be.

According to Stegall, it couldn't have gone better.

"Everything went so smoothly, exactly as planned," Stegall told The Post and Courier on April 6, back home in Greenville six weeks after the transplant surgery. "They said it was the textbook surgery, which was great."

The speed of recovery, she was told, was uncommon.

The same goes for the stranger she helped. Within days, Janet Pierce Thorin walked into Stegall's hospital room.

It was the first time they met.

Bob Jones University will host a ceremony April 7 to honor Stegall and raise awareness of organ donation as part of National Living Donor Day.

The "Flame of Life" torch will arrive on campus at 9:40 a.m., sponsored by Donate Life South Carolina and We Are Sharing Hope SC, which reported South Carolina donors saved more than 39,000 lives across the country during 2020.

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In June, Stegall, a 2016 Bob Jones graduate, was scrolling the "BJU General Alumni" page and saw the plea. In the post, a family member described the plight of Thorin, a 2008 Bob Jones nursing school graduate. Since age 19, Thorin has suffered from an autoimmune disease that attacks her liver.

The disease began to take its toll. In the year leading up to the request, her condition worsened rapidly, which contributed to osteoporosis and weight loss.

The Post and Courier has honored a request from Thorin's family not to seek her comments.

Within days of the surgery, Stegall said, ultrasounds on both women were promising.

"They could already tell that the liver was growing and working inside both of us," she said.

Almost immediately, Thorin's jaundice improved and family members said she had her best night's rest in years. On April 4, she was released from the hospital.

Stegall, who is back to working from home in her role as director of development for the American Heart Association of South Carolina, said she became emotional when Thorin visited along with her husband and mother.

Thorin was steady. The relatives expressed thanks and talked about how difficult it had been waiting and hoping for a donor.

"It was a little surreal, because it's a complete stranger, but you feel connected," Stegall said. "I feel like I gained another family."

Follow Eric on Twitter at @cericconnor.

Reporter/Local Editor

Eric is a reporter and local editor for The Post and Courier in Greenville. Previously with The Greenville News, he's covered the Upstate for two decades and served as a USA TODAY correspondent. He studied journalism at the University of South Carolina.

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