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
Dawn 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.” …
This is the season for gratitude and giving, a time to celebrate friends, family, the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. But for a select group, it also is a time to celebrate one of the greatest gifts — the gift of life through organ donation.
Mickey was born with a unique combination of congenital heart defects and spent most of his early life at Boston Children’s. He was one day shy of 6 months old when he received his heart transplant, and his family is grateful for every day since. “Mickey has shown us what courage and resiliency look like, and his transplant has taught us the true meaning of giving. He has touched so many lives and because of him, we have met so many amazing children and families, whose hearts and hopes far surpass their diagnoses.”
April is National Donate Life month, when people come together to raise awareness about organ donation and encourage others to register themselves as donors. Donate Life Month is in its 11th year, but organ donation itself dates back much further. In fact, in ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese cultures there are legends of transplants performed by gods and healers, proving that the concept of organ donation is at least thousands of years old. Here’s a quick look at how organ transplantation has progressed over the years: …
The cover of today’s Boston Globe features the beaming face of Alannah Shevenell, a 9 year-old who will be heading home to Maine this morning after a three-month stay at Children’s Hospital Boston.
For just under 100 days Alannah and her grandmother have been staying at Children’s while she received treatment for a rare and aggressive cancer that was compromising several of her internal organs. When all other treatments had failed, Heung Bae Kim, MD, director of Children’s Pediatric Transplant Center (PTC), suggested a multivisceral transplant that would remove Alannah’s tumor and replace the six organs that had been damaged by its presence.
Under Kim’s guidance surgeons from Children’s PTC performed the 14-hour procedure. Once Alannah’s tumor was successfully removed doctors took the donor organs, which came from one donor and were kept together as a single unit, and transplanted them into the young girl. Now, a few months later, Alannah is ready to head home, making Children’s PTC the first ever center in New England to successfully transplant six organs in a single procedure— a very impressive number in the field of multivisceral transplantation.
Watch this video from the Boston Globe on Alannah’s treatment:
A multivisceral transplant is one in which the small intestine and liver are replaced, along with one or more of the following organs: spleen, stomach, pancreas or colon. Multivisceral transplants are used to treat a variety of digestive conditions, with the most common being short bowel syndrome
. However, the number of multivisceral transplants performed is significantly lower than procedures involving only one organ; and when you think about the organ transplantation process, it’s easy to understand why. …