Stories about: biliary atresia

Police save lives every day, just not this way — a liver for Sloan

Sloan after her liver transplant pictured next to her living donor, police lieutenant Steve Tenney
Sloan and Lt. Tenney

A police officer’s job is all about action and reaction.

“We see something, react to it and, typically, it’s over quickly,” says Lt. Steve Tenney of the Keene, New Hampshire, Police Department.

But on the morning of Sept. 8, while Steve lay in a hospital bed at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, action/reaction wasn’t part of the equation. This time, there was time to think. Even so, the decision to donate a piece of his liver to save Sloan — a baby he’d never even met — was made without hesitation.

“I did what anyone would have done,” he says.

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Sharing biliary atresia — and strength to beat it

Isabella and her sister Melissa, both have biliary atresia.Everywhere Melissa Villaseñor goes her little sister, Isabella, follows.

The 6- and 2-year-old share just about everything. They share big personalities. They share a love of being lively and loud. And, they also share something else — they were both born with biliary atresia.

“I am not going to lie,” says Andrea Torre, the girls’ mom. “I sometimes break down and cry and ask myself, ‘Why me?’”

Biliary atresia is a chronic, progressive liver condition that is fatal if left untreated. For most parents, having just one child with this rare, life-threatening disease is overwhelming.

“My husband keeps me grounded,” she says. “He reminds me, ‘See how much they fight for their health? We have to fight twice as hard.’”

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A mom gives life twice with living-donor liver transplant

Living-donor liver transplant recipient with her mom Dawn

Dawn Cavanaugh carefully and calmly navigates the roads of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, with a bus full of kids, bringing them to school and safely back home again at the end of each day. As a bus driver, it’s the methodical beat of her everyday life.

Last year, as a mom, she was navigating a very different journey, one in which she did everything in her power — including giving a portion of her liver — to bring her daughter Lydia home safely.

“As far as I’m concerned, my role in this life is to care for my kids,” says Dawn. “And if I have to give a part of myself to do that, that’s all there is to it.”

On the morning of July 15, 2015, Boston Children’s Hospital surgeons Dr. Khashayar Vakili and Dr. Heung Bae Kim begin prepping 11-year-old Lydia for what will be an all-day liver transplant surgery. Dawn is about to undergo surgery as well, 20 miles away at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, in Burlington, Massachusetts, where Boston Children’s adult liver-donor surgeries take place.

A portion of Dawn’s healthy liver will be removed to replace Lydia’s diseased liver. The surgery is not without risk.

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‘What a difference a year makes’: Catching up with liver brothers Brent and Malambo

Liver Transplant recipients - Brent and Malambo
Brent and Malambo

We are honored U.S. News & World Report has named Boston Children’s Hospital the #1 pediatric hospital in the U.S. As we celebrate this honor, we’re reflecting on some of the greatest children’s stories ever told — stories of the patients and families whose lives touch ours and inspire us.

Two of those patients are “liver brothers” Malambo Mazoka-Tyler and Brent Groder.

Malambo and Brent are, by all standards, oceans apart.

Zambian-born Malambo is nearly two. His world, one year after a life-saving, split-liver transplant, is all about walking and talking, laughing and dancing and figuring out why the sky is blue and why cows moo — a typical toddler.

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