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Recipient Stories

Two Amazing Weeks

As told by her mother, Pam

Abby, left, and Emma, right in Florida.

My 10-year-old daughter Emma had no existing medical problems or symptoms before she literally turned yellow on March 26, 2007. I remember receiving the phone call from the school principal after she compared Emma’s skin tone to that of her twin sister Abby, thinking it must be mistake – how could she really be yellow?

She seemed fine when we all left for school that morning. Emma was a fourth-grader at the time. She enjoyed playing sports, scrapbooking and hanging out with Abby and her friends. She said she felt fine, but my husband, Jeff, took Emma to the doctor and a blood test diagnosed viral hepatitis. After a short stay at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Emma was given medication and told to have follow-up blood work a few days later. She began having other flu-like symptoms that weekend, and her blood test showed the medication had not returned her levels to normal. We kept thinking she would get better. She was scheduled for a biopsy the following week. Emma was in acute liver failure. She was transferred to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in an ambulance. We knew it was a transplant center, but the urgency didn’t really register – we thought she was going to see other specialists.

Saturday, April 7, while in the ICU, Emma was listed for a liver transplant. She lost consciousness and we were told she would not survive much longer without the transplant. It was very scary for our family. Her immune system was fighting something and it would not stop – she was killing herself. Two days later, and two weeks to the day that she turned yellow, Emma received her life-saving liver transplant.. She stayed in the hospital two weeks following her transplant and was discharged at the end of April      – a month after the whole nightmare began so unexpectedly. She was anxious to get home to Abby, her older brother, Nick, and her cats. She missed out on her school events but Abby stood in for Emma during her class picture (she even wore pink – Emma’s favorite color!), and promised to play soccer for her if she wasn’t up to it. That summer, Emma worked daily to regain her stamina, and before long, she was back to her normal activities, including playing with her soccer team in the fall – less than six months post-transplant!

Emma and her beloved rabbit, Thumper – a gift for her first transplant anniversary.

Emma knows the importance of her second chance, and hopes to one day contact and meet her donor’s family. She is able to be just a normal kid, doing fun things again with her sister, thanks to her donor. Our family appreciates all that we have even more, and we are grateful for her Gift that keeps on giving.

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