“Christmas is the season of miracles!”
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