Mom sees plea for liver transplant states away. Now baby has ‘full life ahead of her’

When baby Eden was diagnosed with a rare liver disease at 2 months old, her Missouri family put out calls on Facebook searching for a donor.

Then, nearly 1,000 miles away, they found a match in a distant relative related by marriage.

After a “miracle” operation, the 7-month-old girl now has a “full life ahead of her,” her family said.

Just two weeks after she was born, baby Eden Hernandez made the first of what would become many emergency room visits because of biliary atresia, a “rare and life-threatening” liver disease, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital shared in a news release.

Her condition deteriorated as she wasn’t putting on enough weight and her eyes became yellow from jaundice. She was placed on a transplant wait list, but her parents began searching for a living donor on Facebook.

“We are so thankful for all who called in and were willing to be tested,” Sarah Hernandez wrote. “The power of social media is crazy!!”

Only about 6% of all liver donations came from living donors in 2021, a year that a record number of liver transplants were performed, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.

One of Hernandez’s posts made its way to Nadia Hussain, who is married to a cousin of the baby’s father. They learned she was a match, and the mom of three living in New Jersey decided to fly out to St. Louis to donate part of her liver.

“Within a week of showing interest in even being a donor, I was already being tested to go through this surgery,” she posted on Facebook. “And two weeks from when her parents Sarah & Kevin first posted about looking for a living donor, Eden and I were in surgery.”

On Jan. 18, the two went into surgery to give the 6-month-old girl a “second chance at life,” her family shared.

It was the first living liver donation in St. Louis in 10 years, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital said.

“Eden’s new liver will grow with her as she grows and experiences a childhood her parents thought she might never have, and Nadia’s liver will regenerate over the next year until it returns to its normal size,” the hospital wrote.

Her family expressed their gratitude for Hussain and all the doctors who worked to help their family. Hussain said the journey and recovery was worth the effort.

“She is healthy, she is vibrant, she is alive, she is ready for her future,” Hussain wrote. “This experience has been life saving for her and life changing for me. Every day I am grateful that I could do this, every photo, video and update of her growing and thriving is a gift that fills my heart beyond measure.”

After 55 days and nights at the hospital, the family returned home. They continued to update the community on their daughter’s recovery.

“These are the moments we were scared we weren’t going to have,” her family wrote. “These are the milestones we get to see because of the generosity of a living donor. I won’t ever stop appreciating our small and big moments because we almost didn’t get them.”

As of Feb. 21, 2024, there were 9,883 people waiting for a liver transplant, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

“Eden is starting to act like a whole new baby,” her family wrote on Facebook. “As Kevin (dad) put it, it’s like a fog has been lifted from her and she’s starting to really see the world clearly. She smiles so much now! We can’t wait to see who she is without liver disease.”

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