Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Liver transplant gives child a new tomorrow

Two years ago, Kayleigh Petersen of East Brunswick and her family faced an uncertain future.

What a difference two years can make.

At Kayleigh’s 18-month check-up, her parents received unexpected news. Her liver was swollen and the pediatrician sent her to a local hospital for an emergency ultrasound.

After a week of tests and a liver biopsy, Kayleigh was sent to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for further testing.

On March 9, 2009, Rich and Mary Petersen were told Kayleigh had been diagnosed with Tyrosinemia Type 1, a fatal genetic disorder that affects one in 100,000 babies.

Kayleigh was placed on a rare medication, a special formula to replace her milk, and a strict low-protein, low-fat, low-phenylalanine diet.

The hope was the combination of these treatments would reverse the damage the disorder had done to her liver.

It did not work and Kayleigh struggled with cirrhosis of the liver. She became malnourished from the diet and needed a liver transplant to survive.

The Petersen family also needed financial assistance for Kayleigh’s impending liver transplant and ongoing medical care.

They heard about the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) and decided to seek COTA’s guidance and support.

On June 8, 2009, the Petersens received the call they had been waiting for. They packed their bags and headed to Philadelphia. The next day, Kayleigh received her new liver — and her second chance at life.

Kayleigh was released from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 13 days later, and spent the summer recovering and regaining her strength.

Aside from a cold or two, and a bout of possible rejection, Kayleigh has made remarkable post-transplant progress.

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association is a national charity that provides fundraising assistance to transplant families. Since 1986, COTA has worked to ensure that no child or young adult is denied a transplant or excluded from a transplant waiting list due to lack of funds. The charity uses 100 percent of all funds raised in honor of transplant patients for transplant-related expenses.

For more information about organ donation, or to find a COTA family in your area, email kim@cota.org.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
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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
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