Jeff and I met when we were freshmen in college and were married in 2006. Jeff is a pharmacist and I am a teacher. We were thrilled to find out that we were having a baby and Abigail was born in June of 2009. My pregnancy was perfectly normal and although she arrived two weeks early, there was still no indication that something was wrong. She had some issues with jaundice at birth but with the help of the bilirubin blanket - a device used to treat jaundice - it seemed it was getting better. At six weeks of age, I took her to the pediatrician because she just seemed yellow still. Her liver numbers and bilirubin were incredibly high so they sent us to the hospital immediately.
They ruled out disease after disease until finally, when she was eight-months-old, we had a definitive diagnosis: Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis Type 2 (PFIC T2). It is a recessive genetic disorder but it was determined that only one parent was a carrier. She was literally a one-in-a-million kid. We were told that there was no treatment or cure and the only way she would survive would be through transplantation. There was no way to tell when that would need to happen.
A few months later we received terrible news, the disease had caused liver cancer. She was now on borrowed time. There was no treatment so the liver had to come out. She was listed December 1st and we received the call that changed our lives on December 16th. Abby was just 18-months-old when she received her gift of life.
Immediately she was a different kid and today, Abby is amazing. She is funny and smart and full of life. Her energy is endless and her laugh is contagious. She loves to sing and dance, swim, play with her family and friends and visit the zoo. She touches the lives of everyone she meets.
I had given very little thought to organ donation before we were faced with it. When I got my license at 16, I checked the box to say yes to being a donor but never thought much of it. I didn't know anyone who was a donor or anyone who had received a donation. To an undecided potential organ donor, I would simply show him or her a picture of our little lady and let him or her know that Abby is only alive today because someone made the unselfish choice to donate their loved one's organs. Surely her sweet smile would help them decide...It is an amazing gift that can change the lives of so many for the better. Donors and their families truly are heroes.
We received a letter from our donor family one year after the transplant. We had sent pictures and letters before but were not sure if they had been received until the family wrote back. We learned that Marley, a 15-month-old girl, saved Abby's life and two others with her heart and kidneys. We would love to meet them and their other children some day! There are no words to express our gratitude to them. I want them to know that we will honor Marley and their family every day by raising our daughter to be a kind and compassionate person - and one who will continue to give back to the world around her.