Monday, April 23, 2012

A Personal Aside: Transplant Living, 3 Years Later

I try not to blog too much about my persona life on my writing blog because I have another blog specifically for that. Today, however, is not a normal day. Around 6:20pm the night of April 23, we handed our 7-month-old baby girl over to the anesthesiologists in preparation for a liver transplant. At 4am on April 24, 2009, my youngest daughter, Sarah, was being sewn up by surgeons at Seattle Children's Hospital.

This journey began on November 14, 2008 at Sarah's two-month pediatrician appointment. Our doctor ordered extensive lab work due to Sarah's jaundice. The result: diagnosis of the rare liver disease, biliary atresia. Essentially, B.A. as families like to call it, is the absence of bile ducts from the liver to the gall bladder. Or the ducts are so minute as to be useless. You can imagine the result of this. Bile doesn't filter out of the liver, instead polluting the organ and damaging it day-by-day. That's exactly what happened to Sarah.

On November 17, Sarah visited her first operating room and became a recipient of a Kasai surgery. The surgeons attached part of Sarah's small intestine directly to her liver in hopes of relieving the bile back-up and saving the liver from any further damage. The surgery itself went without a hitch. It wasn't until later we realized the liver was too far gone.

While the bile did indeed drain from the liver, the organ had suffered so much damage it resembled that of an alcoholic: hardened and dying. Blood could not flow properly through and veins had to find away around the liver to the heart. The result was life-threatening varices and a major bleed in early March 2009. Just over a month later, Sarah received her gift of life and is flourishing. As transplant recipients know, there's no such thing as "normal" due to a lifetime regimen of immunosuppression drugs (with their own side effects) and the threat of rejection - at any time.

We stand here today grateful to God for Sarah's presence in our lives and forever thankful to the family who lost their old child, enabling ours to live. Happy Transplantaversary, Sarah!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your family's very personal story, Kirk. God bless you all!