Sunday, August 14, 2011

Australian Baby gets new lease on life after liver donor found

Readers may remember my original post about Yvanna's plight and her family's desperate search for a donor. I'm very happy to post this heartwarming response.

Yvanna Cartilla is pictured at Westmead Children's Hospital this week after recovering from a liver transplant. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

By Caroline Marcus The Sunday Telegraph

WITH her rosy cheeks and easy laughter, baby Yvanna seems the picture of health.

Yet it was just a few months ago that doctors gave her weeks to live, so ill was she with liver failure and needing a donor for a transplant.

In February, The Sunday Telegraph revealed the Cartilla family's desperate hope that a compatible organ would become available.

There are about 1700 people, including children, on the organ transplant waiting list at any time and most wait from six months to four years.

An organ became available shortly after the story and Yvanna is now thriving.

Her mother, Ellen Cartilla, 42, from Merrylands, described the news of a compatible organ as "a miracle."

"The first smile after her transplant was a victory for her and the family," Mrs Cartilla said. "It was like, 'Mum, we did it'. It was all worth it. She is a miracle baby."

She and her husband Silvano, 51, expressed their deep gratitude to the donor's family and the Children's Hospital at Westmead.

"It is a gift of life. That (donor) family is a huge part of our lives now," she said.

"Yvanna's experience taught us not to give up, be strong and don't lose hope. She's the role model for the whole family now. She's a very brave and strong little girl."

Now 14 months old, Yvanna is starting to crawl and loves playing with brother Isaiah, 4.

It was a very different story at the beginning of the year, when the little girl was in constant pain and required round-the-clock comforting.

Paediatric transplant surgeon Gordon Thomas said then that she was deteriorating rapidly and would "surely die" without a transplant.

Yvanna was born with biliary atresia, a disease that causes the body to destroy its bile ducts - which digest food - and eventually the liver.

The condition affects one in 10,000 to 15,000 newborns in Australia every year, although a third of those can be successfully treated with a relatively straightforward surgery called a Kasai, but not in Yvanna's case.

Since her transplant, the infant has had to return to hospital for weekly check-ups so doctors can ensure that her liver is functioning properly and the immune suppression drugs are working.

Ms Cartilla said she would like to volunteer to help families in a similar position.

"It is heartbreaking for me to see the families going through what I went through," she said.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – Sign-up today!
to become an organ and tissue donor
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
United States,
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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