I was born on January 29, 1992 with a birth defect called gastroschisis, which meant that my intestines extended outside my body through a small hole in my abdominal wall. I received a liver, small and large bowel transplant in December of 1992, just before my first birthday. Though I was transplanted in Pennsylvania, I have been cared for by the brilliant team at Boston Children’s Hospital ever since.
When I was first recovering in Pennsylvania, my parents were told that I would never be able to swim in the ocean because I would have to have a central line in for the rest of my life. Well, to that person I would like to say:
When Lucas St. Onge blew out the five candles on his birthday cake, he made just one wish. He didn’t ask for ninja turtles, a T-ball set or an Xbox — the only thing he wished was to be just like any other kid.
“It was a gift I couldn’t give,” says his mom, Heather.
On that same day, last May, he got his wish.
“He got a liver, stomach, pancreas, intestine and spleen — the five organs he needed to help him become healthy and happy,” Heather says.
Heather was 18 weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Anthony, learned they were about to face a myriad of medical challenges with their unborn child. To what extent remained unclear, until the day Lucas was born. …
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.’” …
There are more than 80 children currently waiting for life-saving organ transplants at Boston Children’s Hospital. The Pediatric Transplant Center team is grateful for the donors who give these kids a second chance.