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I have my own story about getting a liver transplant. That's right; it happened to me!
The story began when I was a very small baby, only a couple weeks old. I was so young; I don't even remember anything from back then. I needed a new liver because I had a problem called biliary atresia.
A few weeks after I was born, my parents noticed I wasn't feeling very well. They were a little worried, so they took me to the doctor. By doing some tests, she was able to figure out why I was sick. A disease called biliary atresia was harming my liver.
One way of helping kids like me who have biliary atresia is with surgery. Surgery means that doctors use special tools to fix a problem inside your body. It's a little like what a mechanic does to a car when it doesn't run properly. The mechanic gets to the parts of the car that make it run, and uses tools to fix them.
My parents were nervous about my surgery, but they also felt hopeful. If it worked, my body would have time to grow bigger and stronger before a liver transplant.
A couple years ago, it was time to find a healthier liver for me. I remember feeling scared about actually getting the transplant, but also looking forward to my life after it. I could play T-ball, and stay over at my friends' houses again.
One day (well, the middle of the night), we got a phone call at our house. My mom answered it. "They have a liver for you," she told me.
We had to get to the hospital right away. After all that waiting, things suddenly happened quickly. Good thing I'd already packed a suitcase! I was scared and nervous. It helped a little that my transplant coordinator had explained what would happen. It was important to get my new liver and me together as soon as possible.
I was asleep for the actual surgery. A special doctor called an "anesthesiologist" gave me certain drugs that made me fall asleep. He stayed with me through the whole operation, to make sure that I didn't feel a thing.
It worked; I don't remember any of that part. When I woke up, I was in the hospital's intensive care unit, or ICU. I needed to spend a couple days there. That way, the doctors could make sure my new liver and my body were working together.
Soon, I was ready to leave the ICU and go to a regular hospital room. My mom and dad stayed with me a lot. When I was too sore and tired to do anything else, we watched TV. I'd packed lots of markers and paper for when I got bored. I ended up drawing pictures for all of my nurses and doctors, and even for some of the other kids staying nearby.
Then one day, the doctor told my parents and me I could leave the hospital! I still saw my doctors at clinic every week for awhile, so we stayed near the hospital. As I got stronger and healthier with my new liver, we didn't have to go to clinic as often. During this time, I went back to school. Now, I only have clinic once every year!
I take medicine at certain times during the day. It helps my new liver do its job and keeps me healthy. Other than that, my life is pretty much like my friends'. We won second place in our softball league this summer. I'm caught up in school. I even wrote a report on transplantation for class! Back when I was waiting for my transplant, I wondered if things could ever be normal again. Well, here I am: just a normal kid, with one heck of a story to tell!
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.