Katrine and Rob, the unfortunate parents, recall the feeling of helplessness as their precious daughter, Riley, lay unconscious, kept alive only by machines.
The devastating news came from doctors who informed them that Riley, their 18-month-old daughter, was teetering on the edge of death due to sepsis—a life-threatening condition where the body’s response to infection causes damage to its own tissues.
The first indication of trouble arose when Katrine was 20 weeks pregnant. Doctors discovered a cyst-like structure growing in Riley’s abdomen, leaving them baffled about the cause.
Immediately after Riley’s birth, she was taken away for a series of tests. At just one month old, she underwent surgery that confirmed a heart-wrenching diagnosis—Biliary atresia, a rare condition that obstructs the bile ducts around the liver. Surgeons managed to repair some of the damage, although they warned the parents that the surgery might not be successful.
Unfortunately, the challenges persisted for the family. Riley had difficulty swallowing and relied on a feeding tube, frequently experiencing infections that led to recurrent hospital visits.
At the age of 18 months, Riley faced her first battle with sepsis, stemming from a severe infection around her liver. The condition continued to afflict her fragile body, eventually overwhelming her liver’s capacity to cope. The family prepared for a potentially lengthy wait as Riley was placed on the transplant list.
However, after just two weeks, they received the long-awaited call—a suitable liver had been found. Riley was swiftly taken to the operating room, but the transplant didn’t go according to plan. Her body rejected the new liver, and a few days later, she relied on life support.
Subsequently, Riley’s parents underwent testing, and it was discovered that her father, Rob, was a match for a potential transplant. Gratefully accepting Rob’s selfless offer, the medical team devised a plan to extract a portion of his liver for transplantation into his young daughter—a complex and high-risk procedure usually reserved for rare cases when a suitable liver from a deceased donor cannot be found.
Rob was prepared for surgery the following day when he received a phone call informing him that another liver from a deceased donor had been located for Riley. Katrine was relieved that her husband no longer had to undergo surgery, still felt anxious about Riley’s operation. The baby underwent a second transplant surgery, and two months later, she was finally permitted to go home.
The parents will forever be grateful for the gift that Riley’s donor gave her. They will also never forget the organ donated by the first person. Each year, on the anniversary of the transplant, Katrine and Rob intend to honor both donors, expressing profound gratitude to the person who bestowed their daughter with the gift of life. “Organ donors are absolute heroes,” Katrine acknowledges, acknowledging the immense impact of their selfless act.