Kasen Donerlson, one, received his new liver on January 3 (Picture: Mitayah Donerlson/metro.co.uk)
A one-year-old has been hailed a ‘miracle baby’ after surviving Covid and a liver transplant within the space of two months.
Kasen Donerlson, from Syracuse, New York, who turned one on Thursday, contracted coronavirus while he was suffering with liver failure and waiting for a donor organ to become available.
The youngster received his new liver on January 3 is due to leave hospital and head home later today following his miraculous double recovery.
His mom, Mitayah Donerlson, 33, says Kasen’s new liver has given him a new lease of life that’s allowed him try to stand on his own two feet for the very first time.
Mitayah said: ‘His recovery has been super smooth and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Kasen is due to be discharged from hospital today (Picture: Mitayah Donerlson/metro.co.uk)
Mitayah Donerlson, pictured, had to relocate to Pittsburgh with Kasen for the liver transplant (Pictured: Mitayah Donerlson/metro.co.uk)
‘His progress since the transplant has been truly amazing. He has gained 17lbs and shows me signs of improvement every day.
‘He has perked up and is trying to stand now, he has never tried to stand before.
‘Kasen has smiled through all of this, he has always been in good spirits. It has been incredibly hard but we are in a great place now.
‘I want to find his donor’s family so we can say thank you properly. I want them to know they have our sincere love.’
Kasen was born on January 14 last year weighing a healthy eight pounds but showed early signs of breathing problems. He spent a few days in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) and doctors told Mitayah that Kasen’s condition should improve as he got older, she said.
Kasen contracted Covid when he was on the transplant list (Picture: Mitayah Donerlson/metro.co.uk)
But as he reached two months old Kasen’s health did not improve. He developed discoloured skin and was struggling to put on weight.
Concerned, Mitayah said she took him to the ER. Following a series of tests and CAT scans, the infant was diagnosed with a severe case of biliary atresia, a condition in which bile ducts in and around the liver are scarred and blocked.
Doctors initially tried to treat the condition with surgery – which proved unsuccessful and led doctors to decide Kasen required a full liver transplant.
‘He was very sick, some days he could not even hold his bottle.’ said Mitayah, who also has a five-year-old son, Cameron.
‘His liver was failing and he was put on the transplant list. We had to relocate to Pittsburgh to be close to the hospital in case his condition deteriorated.
‘We were told to wait there until a donor liver became available.’
Kasen was placed on the transplant list at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in March and the family spent months waiting for the all-important call.
To give Kasen the best chance of survival Mitayah was told to ramp up her and her son’s personal hygiene to stop him from getting sick. As his liver was failing Kasen was immunosuppressed and at a greater risk of falling seriously ill with a virus.
Kasen is expected to live a normal, healthy life with his new liver (Picture: Mitayah Donerlson/metro.co.uk)
So when, in November as Kasen was waiting for a liver to become available, he and Mitayah tested positive for Covid, there was an immediate cause for concern.
Kasen was admitted to hospital and spent around three days on a ward as a precaution. His only complication from coronavirus was a fever, according to his mom.
Just two weeks after Kasen’s recovery from Covid, in early December, Mitayah said she received the call she had been waiting months for – a liver was finally available for Kasen.
Mitayah said: ‘It was amazing to hear a donor had been found for him. Waiting was so hard on everyone.
‘All I know about the donor is that they are deceased and from Mississippi. It means so much to us that they did this, it’s wonderful for us.’
When Kasen underwent the transplant on January 3, he only weighed ten pounds more than his birth weight.
The transplant op took ten hours and brought to a close almost a full year of illness and hospital stays for Kasen, who Mitayah said has ‘laughed’ his way through.
She said she noticed an immediate difference in Kasen in the days after the procedure and he is expected to have a long, normal and healthy life with his new liver.
He recovered from the operation just in time to celebrate his first birthday in hospital on January 14.
Kasen celebrated his first birthday in hospital after his transplant (Picture: Mitayah Donerlson/metro.co.uk)
Mitayah added that following her experience with Kasen, she hopes to start a not-for-profit organization that offers support and advice for parents of organ transplant children.
She said: ‘Lots of people have helped us pay for medical bills and medicine, it has been very expensive and we did not expect any of this.
‘I want to use my experience to help other families who are in a similar position to us. I want to offer help because it is very hard.
‘We are grateful to everyone who has helped us.’
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