“Christ­mas is the sea­son of mir­a­cles!”

Woman's World - - Christmas Gift -

Melody Mccabe was warned it might take months, if it even hap­pened at all, to get her baby the life­sav­ing liver trans­plant he des­per­ately needed. But in a sea­son of mir­a­cles, any­thing can hap­pen . . .

As she cra­dled her sixweek-old son, Daniel, Melody Mccabe lis­tened to the doc­tor’s words— “Your son needs a liver biopsy” — and fought back tears.

From his very first day of life, Daniel had strug­gled. While many new­borns have some jaun­dice, Daniel’s wasn’t re­spond­ing to treat­ment. His skin was yel­low, and he con­stantly screamed as though in pain.

My poor baby, the Wauke­sha, Wis­con­sin, mom of four, wept. Please let us find some way to make things bet­ter for him!

Look­ing for a miracle

When­the re­sults of the biopsy re­turned, the news was dev­as­tat­ing: Daniel had bil­iary atre­sia, a rare, lifethreat­en­ing con­di­tion in which bile ducts are blocked and un­able to re­move waste from the liver.

“What do we do now?” Melody and her hus­band, Joe, asked spe­cial­ists.

Sur­geons rec­om­mended the Ka­sai pro­ce­dure, which in­volves re­mov­ing the blocked bile ducts and gall­blad­der and re­plac­ing them with a seg­ment of the small in­tes­tine.

“This pro­ce­dure of­fers great suc­cess for many chil­dren with this dis­ease,” they were told.

But while Daniel came through surgery well, his skin re­mained yel­low. And though doc­tors com­forted, “It might take time,” Melody watched in hor­ror as, week af­ter week, Daniel’s belly swelled more.

“He’s in pain again!” Melody cried to Joe as Daniel sobbed. Grab­bing the hospi­tal bag they kept packed, they headed to the ER once more— and Daniel’s next round of tests re­vealed that his dam­aged liver was filling with scar tis­sue.

Daniel would have to re­main in Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal of Wis­con­sin in Mil­wau­kee, a maze of tubes and ma­chines do­ing the work his own liver could not. At nearly five months, he weighed only eight pounds— not much big­ger than the av­er­age new­born— and was so weak, he couldn’t even hold a paci­fier in his mouth.

“He needs a new liver as soon as pos­si­ble,” doc­tors de­ter­mined, trans­fer­ring Daniel to Lurie Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal in Chicago, where he would un­dergo a trans­plant as soon as an or­gan be­came avail­able. At 10:15 a.m. that morn­ing, Daniel’s name was placed on the United Net­work for Or­gan Shar­ing list. The Mc­cabes were told that the av­er­age liver trans­plant pa­tient is on the list for 86 days be­fore re­ceiv­ing a new or­gan— and of­ten, for weeks or months longer, many never find­ing a match.

“Test me!” Melody blurted. She’d given Daniel life once; per­haps she could again. Please pray Daniel gets a liver! she begged her friends.

A miracle for Daniel!

But­be­fore she could be­gin the liv­ing donor test­ing, doc­tors came into Daniel’s room.

Pan­ick­ing, a voice in­side Melody wor­ried that they were bring­ing more bad news. But in­stead, un­be­liev­ably, a doc­tor an­nounced, “We have a liver for your son!”

Melody stared at him in dis­be­lief: Daniel had only been on the list for 40 min­utes! In shock, Melody called Joe. “I can’t be­lieve it!” he cried, rush­ing to the hospi­tal.

For 12 ag­o­niz­ing hours, they waited, pray­ing with friends and fam­ily as Daniel un­der­went surgery. And when the trans­plant was com­plete, Melody gasped: For the first time, Daniel’s skin was pink and the whites of his eyes were white!

Who­ever you are, wher­ever you are, thank you for sav­ing our baby’s life, Melody mar­veled, filled with grat­i­tude to the donor fam­ily.

Every day, as friend and fam­ily “elves” back home pitched in with hot meals and child­care, Daniel grew stronger. Af­ter the New Year, he was able to go home! And soon, a now rosy-cheeked Daniel was mak­ing up for lost time, learn­ing how to crawl and gig­gling at his big brother and sis­ters.

The miracle Daniel re­ceived was “one in a mil­lion!” Head of Trans­plant Surgery Ric­cardo Su­pe­rina, M.D., de­clares. And every day, Melody and Joe— who have re­cently be­come friends with the fam­ily of Daniel’s donor, Jen­nifer Call, who died of a heart at­tack at 37— are thank­ful for that miracle.

“Be­cause of Jen­nifer, be­cause her fam­ily hon­ored her mem­ory by do­nat­ing her liver, Daniel’s no longer in pain and can now grow up a healthy and happy lit­tle boy,” Melody beams. “Christ­mas is the sea­son of mir­a­cles. Be­lieve in them— be­cause Daniel be­ing here is proof pos­i­tive they hap­pen!”

— Marti At­toun

My idea of Christ­mas is very sim­ple: oth­ers.” lov­ing BOB HOPE

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