Stories about: living donor

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
Sloane 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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Bella is back, thanks to a very special kidney

Teen is back on the slopes after kidney transplant.
Bella received a kidney transplant from a living donor — her dad, Bill.

When they boarded a flight to Hawaii, Nancie and Bill had no idea their 12-year-old daughter was days away from being diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). It was spring break and everyone was excited for the family adventure to begin.

The day before the trip, Bella saw a local orthopedic specialist after feeling pain and weakness in her legs. She otherwise felt well, but with softball season approaching, she didn’t want to risk injury. The specialist drew blood and was hoping to have some answers for the family upon their return home to Connecticut.

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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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Saving six: Life before and after transplant

An organ transplant is a life-changing event extending far beyond the operating room, the clinics and the hospital walls. Read about five children, one young adult and their families, whose lives were forever changed by the Pediatric Transplant Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.


Lydia’s liver transplant, a mom’s gift

Living donor liver transplant recipientDawn Cavanagh gave her daughter life twice — first when she was born and, again, when she gave 13-year-old Lydia a piece of her liver last summer. The donor-approval process, which occurs with Boston Children’s partner Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, required hours of medical screening, including an interview with a social worker, who asked if Dawn expected anything in return for being Lydia’s liver donor. “And I said, ‘Of course I expect something,’” explains Dawn. “’I expect her to live a long and happy life, and I expect her to be with me for a long time.’”

More than a year after her liver transplant, for Lydia’s birthday, Aug. 1, the Cavanagh family went on Lydia’s Make-A-Wish trip, a Disney cruise to the Bahamas. “We had so much fun,” says Dawn. “She’s a happy kid. She has dreams. She wants to be a transplant nurse, and she wants to work on 10 South at Boston Children’s Hospital.” 

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