August 13, 2010

living donor liver transplant

Wow do I love this picture! This is my adorable niece Kenna who just last week received a part of her mothers liver. The reason for the food on her plate is the doctors want her to gain weight, so her daddy served her up some high calorie foods. She was born with Biliary Atresia a disease of the liver and bile duct. She had a Kasai procedure {which is the first step with this disease} several months ago. That unfortunately didn't work so she kept getting sicker and sicker. Since there are not enough liver donors for everyone that needs one, the only other option for her is to have a living donor give a part of their liver. Kenna's mother Emileah who was luckily a match and courageously gave a piece of her liver so her daughter could live a healthy life. They both came through their surgeries{which are very risky} with flying colors and we continue to be amazed at how fast Kenna is becoming a healthy little girl for the first time in her life. I hope that anyone who is faced with this diagnosis of their baby like Kenna, might come along this post and see this story of hope, love, courage and faith. Here are pictures of their journey.
This is the day of the liver transplant. The liver surgeon is the same for Emileah and Kenna. Emileah went in at 7:30 in the morning at USC Medical Center. The doctor took a part of Emileah's liver and then he transported it to Children's hospital in Los Angeles where soon Kenna would go into surgery. Kathi {my sister} and I were with Kenna and Kenna's dad and granddad stayed with Emileah at USC for her surgery. Kathi and I had to try to keep Kenna happy from about 7:00 to 1:00 pm until they had finished with her mom's surgery and could start Kenna's. This was difficult as she wasn't allowed anything to eat or drink because the surgery. I would push Kenna in a stroller while Kathi pushed the IV pole around the floor. This kept her pretty happy and she even took a nap. I'm sure it made a rather funny picture!
This is Kenna's stomach before the surgery distended from the diseased liver. It caused her a lot of agony and when you held her she would arch her back in pain. We were so excited that very soon she would be receiving a new liver and her suffering would stop.
Finally about 45 minutes before she went into surgery and Kenna was at her wit's end. Thankfully they gave her a little happy juice and turned her into a happy girl!
This is her amazing doctor who did both her and her mom's surgery.
Kenna finally on her way for surgery at 1:00 pm.
Kenna didn't get out of surgery until 11:00 pm that night. There was a complication with a blood clot which thankfully resolved later. Her surgeon came and talked to us and said she was doing well and we could see her in 30 minutes. She must have had 6 doctors and nurses working on her in ICU at that point which was pretty scary. Next day was a turn for the better as she recovered enough to have her breathing tube taken out which meant that she was already breathing on her own!

Here she is just a couple of days later with grandpa, looking great and trying to grab things.
Here is a beautiful picture taken a few days later by her Aunt Lisa which shows her pretty white eyes that she has now since having a new liver. Before they were quite yellow from the build up of the bilirubin. We were all so excited to see this.
Here is Mom, the hero in this who saved her daughters life. This is the first day after surgery and she is sitting up and looking amazing. My sister-in law Terri sat by her bedside the first week and was so great at being Emileah's advocate and helper.
Here is Kenna the next day sitting up and progressing beautifully. Kathi stayed with Kenna around the clock. The first day after surgery she held her continually so Kenna wouldn't cry and be comforted. She is a lucky little girl to have such an amazing and devoted grandma!
Here is the picture that brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. Mother and daughter reunited after the first week when Emileah was released to go home. We are so blessed and grateful for their health and recovery!

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