On the morning of June 15, Beth Bernard and Kevin Looper lay in adjoining operating rooms in San Francisco, far from their Northeast Portland homes.
Bernard is executive director of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.
Looper is perhaps Oregon's most influential Democratic political consultant.
They both faced complex surgical procedures that could lead to infection, organ malfunction or other complications, including a small but not insignificant chance of death.
For Looper, 49, the upside was absolute. He was dying. A rare surgical procedure offered him his best and maybe only chance to see his 4-year-old son grow up. For Bernard, the upside was more difficult to explain. She was a vigorous 54-year-old in perfect health.