Future Players In The Bay Area Saved By Organ Donation
The biggest warriors often time come in the smallest sizes; that is the story of two Bay Area children and liver recipients.
In 2016, the families of nine-week-old Penelope and baby Jabari met at a crossroads. It was within the walls of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford that Penelope’s mother, Liz, and Jabari’s mother, Mary, wondered if a future would be possible for their babies.
Penelope and Jabari both suffered from biliary atresia- the most common lethal liver disease in infants that affects the liver and bile ducts which occurs once in every 10,000 to 15,000 live births. Penelope underwent the Kasai procedure which gave her more time to live. A few days later, Jabari underwent the same procedure.
In the months that followed, Penelope was placed on the transplant waitlist for a liver. Thankfully, a liver quickly became available for her after only eight days of being listed. Jabari, however, was not yet on the waitlist. Not knowing what was next for Jabari, Mary sought guidance from Liz.
During that process, Mary and Liz got to know each other and their families better. Liz urged Mary not to lose hope and to push harder to get Jabari on the waitlist. The assertiveness soon paid off; Jabari was added to the waitlist as a liver candidate and received a new liver. Mary and Liz would routinely see each other at Lucile Packard while Penelope and Jabari underwent treatment and check-ups and discussed their children’s futures.
Today, Penelope and Jabari are both living happy and healthy lives thanks to the miracle of organ donation. At 3-years-old, Penelope is strong and playful. She is fascinated by lights, loves to paint, and climb on everything outside. 3-year-old Jabari loves playing outside with his big brother and watching gorillas and monkeys on YouTube, King Kong and Curious George being his favorites.
“It gets better. In the beginning, you don’t know what to expect. Now we are on the other side of it all; it’s beautiful and we are so blessed. Even though we have extra doctor visits than most kids, it’s all worth it. Penelope has changed us all for the better,” says Liz.
Both Penelope and Jabari have loving families with brave mothers who constantly fight for them. Like their mothers, the toddlers fight too.
“You just need patience and a lot of love from your family, that’s what pushed us through to the other side. I hope more people will be donors because Jabari brings happiness and you never know what kind of happiness you can bring to someone’s life,” says Mary.
400 children just like Penelope and Jabari are waiting for an organ transplant in Northern California and Nevada. One organ donor can save the lives of up to 8 people and one tissue donor can heal up to 75 others.
You can register as an organ donor to save future players at the DMV or at DonorNetworkWest.org.
Donor Network West saves and heals lives by facilitating organ and tissue recovery for transplantation and research. The organization was established in 1987 and is an official Donate Life organization accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Federally designated to serve 45 counties in Northern California and Northern Nevada, Donor Network West partners with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state-authorized donor registries. For information, visit DonorNetworkWest.org and follow us on social media: @mydnwest.