A baby suffering with a rare liver disease, received a miracle liver transplant just in time for Christmas.
Just forty minutes after being placed on the national transplant registry, a call was received with the good news that an organ donor had been found for Daniel McCabe, a five-month-old with biliary atresia.
Daniel was one of the tiniest patients doctors at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital had performed a transplant on.
One of the hospital’s Organ Procurement Specialists, Justin Boese, stated, “This is one of the most incredible things that has happened in the five years I’ve been here. Patients even in the most critical statuses can wait anywhere from a few days to a few months to a few years for a liver. The shortest wait time I have seen here was at least 12 hours, so 40 minutes is very unusual.”
“It just goes to show the importance of organ donation. There aren’t always organs available, and we were very, very fortunate in this circumstance that we were able to list Daniel as quickly as we were able to and that at almost exactly that moment a liver was becoming available elsewhere in our region,” Justin stated.
In the past five years only Daniel and 43 other people were on the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) list for 40 minutes or less before getting the call that an organ was available.
Dr. Jeffrey Brown, Daniel’s physician, entered the hospital room where his mother Melody and Daniel were staying and announced, “We have a liver.”
“When Dr. Brown walked into our room and shared the news, I just was speechless. I was immediately so sad but grateful for the donor family. And then at the same time feeling excited and relieved for Daniel,” said Melody. She went on to say, “I never thought he would receive a liver this soon. I thought it would be months before a match and that was my biggest worry because he was so sick.”
The Head of Transplant Surgery at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital, Dr. Riccardo Superina, performed the surgery. Superina told Melody, “Daniel is one of the smallest patients we’ve ever transplanted – probably in the 99th percentile. He weighed barely 4 kilograms, and half of that weight was fluids. He was very weak from his disease and never had a normal liver.”
Daniel was not the only person saved by the liver donation of the 30-year-old donor.
“We split the liver into two portions, so two patients were transplanted from one liver. An adult also benefited from this liver. We’re very mindful of the utilization of donor organs. About half the time we have an organ allocated to us, we are able to split it and utilize it in two patients. If you could do that with 20 per cent of donors, it would actually eliminate the pediatric waiting list. But that doesn’t happen often enough,” Dr. Superina stated.
In his final words to Melody he told her that everything went well. “Daniel is recovering nicely in Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. He’ll be here another three weeks or so. We expect that he will recover with time and good nutrition and will probably regain full function.”
Melody replied, “This is the first time I’ve seen him with normal skin coloring. He’s always been yellow in color. So to see him with normal coloring is just amazing. We had a lot of prayer warriors praying for Daniel. This is the greatest gift we could receive this season.”
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