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Baby gets life-saving liver donation from family member

Baby Eden had an uncommon disease and needed a transplant from a living donor quickly. A distant relative several states away came to the rescue.
Baby's foot with a tube at the hospital
Posted at 10:14 AM, Feb 21, 2024

Eden Hernandez’s parents were worried. Despite feeding frequently, the 2-month-old infant wasn’t gaining weight. Her doctor also noticed Eden’s eyes were yellow — a common symptom of jaundice, except newborn jaundice usually clears up by three weeks of age.

Testing and surgery revealed that Eden was born with a condition called biliary atresia, a condition that occurs in about 1 in 12,000 infants. Her bile ducts didn’t develop properly, creating a blockage between the liver and gallbladder. Without treatment, the damage to her liver would be fatal.

“There were times where I laid in bed and would think, ‘Am I going to lose her?’” Eden’s mom, Sarah Hernandez, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Eden’s symptoms returned, and a liver transplant was the only option. On a Facebook page set up to help Eden, Sarah Hernandez started to discuss the requirements a living donor would need to meet to match with the then-5-month-old baby.

Hundreds of miles away in New Jersey, a distant cousin (by marriage) saw the search for donors on social media and wanted to help. Doctors confirmed through tests that Nadia Hussain, 39, was a good fit as a liver donor. So she hopped on a plane for St. Louis, leaving her husband and three young kids in New Jersey.

“Sacrificing a few weeks from my kids to give a lifetime for another family to have with their kid, to me that’s a no-brainer, how could I not do that?” Hussain told St. Louis station KMOV.

A portion of Hussain’s liver was surgically removed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and implanted in Eden. Hussain’s liver will regenerate the lost portion, and Eden’s transplant will grow as she grows.

Both surgeries were a success, and Eden is now living at home with her parents. Hussain returned to her family in New Jersey but wants to come back to visit her “liver bestie,” according to Fox2.

“I haven’t even processed it because it’s happened so fast,” Hernandez told Fox2. “It’s hard to know; what do you say, because it’s such a huge gift.”

Eden’s dad, Kevin Hernandez, said on Fox2 that he can finally envision Eden’s future.“We couldn’t see that before the transplant,” he said. “It was hard to see it. Now, we see endless possibilities for whatever she wants to do.”

This story was originally published by Simplemost.