Close your eyes. Breathe. Everything is quiet. Then imagine a team of doctors and nurses walks into your 19 month old son’s room at the hospital and says to you, “We are afraid the next virus will be fatal, we feel transplant is his best option”. Let that sink in. Less than 3 years later, it’s deja vu, but this time with your 6 month old daughter and this time an amazing surgeon walks into your room a week before her first Christmas and says “We’re worried she only has days”. These are words we have heard about our children from medical staff at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario. Our children are both liver transplant recipients and both Jason and I donated our livers to save our children’s lives.
Logan was born on August 18 2008 at 6lbs 9oz and perfectly healthy. He was 4 and a half months when he presented with flu-like symptoms. Three days later, Logan’s eyes went jaundiced and within a week our little baby was completely yellow. Nothing was adding up. During the next 15 months Logan had gone in and out of liver failure 4 times. The last time in March 2009 was when the word “fatal” was uttered. Sickkids tested Logan for everything they could think of that would explain why he was in chronic liver failure. The team could not come up with a diagnosis.
Logan was listed and cleared for transplant and I was cleared as a living donor for him. Our surgery was scheduled for May 28th 2009. The morning of transplant was very emotional. I made my way over to Toronto General at 6am to start my surgery, while I left my little baby at Sickkids to get ready for his surgery. It was an amazing day. The surgeon said my liver was made to fit. Logan was a champ. He was alive and that’s all that mattered. Logan was discharged from hospital 13 days post-transplant.
Alyson, our second child was born May 25, 2011 at a teeny 4lbs 14oz. Early blood tests after she was born revealed that her liver was fine and nothing to be of any concern. She was 5and half months when she came down with RSV, it had landed her in the hospital at McMaster for a week. The day of discharge came and we were ready to come home, when my husband noticed her eyes were a little jaundiced. Not wanting to believe it, we reluctantly told the doctors and they had order blood work, which confirmed our fears. Her liver was failing. Sickkids was contacted and she was to wait at McMaster until a bed at Sickkids opened. Once we made it to Sickkids it took about a week before they knew it was time to list her for transplant. She was put through every test that Logan had and still like Logan, no diagnosis was able to be made.
Alyson was listed on December 15th. During that time my husband was being worked up to be a living donor for her. During these two weeks we had two deceased donors that ended up not working out. In a rush to save Alyson’s life, two days after my husband was cleared for transplant surgery took place. Alyson was 7 months and had been worse off than Logan when transplant occurred. Being so little and so sick would present an even bigger challenge for our little baby. Dad’s liver was large and Alyson’s abdomen was kept open for 2 and a half weeks until swelling went down and she was able to be closed. She spent 2 weeks in the ICU, mostly due to lung problems, and then was released from hospital one month post-transplant. Slowly but surely she was getting better.
Almost three years post transplant for Logan and he is a loving, caring, hilarious, energetic little boy. He lights up any room he walks into with his charm. He has done very well post-transplant and we hope he continues down this path. Alyson is almost 4 months post-transplant and although there are complications slowing her down, they are not liver related. She has a history of lung issues and is currently has a feeding tube. She is a beautiful, playful, happy little girl. We are thankful every day to be able to laugh and play with our children. We take great pride in our scars and embrace the children’s liver day celebrations every year. We can`t get any luckier than that.