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Born on Valentine’s Day 1997, with a condition called Megacystitis Microcolon Intestinal Hypoperistalsis Syndrome, Sarah had an enlarged bladder, an abnormally small colon and an absence of bowel contractions that allow digestion. Complicating her condition, she also had a ruptured appendix and a twisted bowel.
Sarah’s first five months of life was at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital where her condition forced her to live on intravenous feeding while on continuous care. Over time, these prolonged feedings caused extensive damage to her liver and hope for her survival was dim. A life-saving multi-organ transplant was her only hope for life. Her chances for a transplant were remote, as organ donation for such a small infant is extremely rare.
Miraculously, in her hour of need, a donor was found; Sarah was transported to the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario where a stomach, pancreas, liver and bowel transplant took place. This operation was groundbreaking on a number of fronts. Sarah is the youngest patient in the world to receive such a transplant (in fact, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records). She was also the first pediatric patient in Canada to receive the operation. Also, at this time, Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario was the only hospital in Canada capable of a bowel transplant and only one of a few in the country that do multi-organ transplants.
Sarah spent the next 5 months in hospital as her condition improved. Finally, after getting the clearance from the medical team at Children’s, we went home together for the first time. Sarah was required to return to the hospital regularly for check-ups. Sarah spent a great deal of time in and out of hospital over the first few years after her transplant. The road was bumpy in the beginning, but time, growth and healing from all that her body went through have settled things down over the last few years. We still have regular check-ups and a few hospital stays but they are few and far between.
Nine years later, Sarah is full of life, boundless energy and truly a walking-talking miracle. She is living a normal and very active life. Sarah is in grade 3 and actively involved in ballet, jazz, modern dance, horseback riding and scrap booking.
Sarah has also become an accomplished media celebrity. Sarah can be seen on the national Wal-Mart Good Works awareness media campaign as the little girl at the end of the commercial who whispers …“I am one”. She is certainly not camera or media shy. Sarah also competed in the 2006 World Transplant Games, which were held in London, Ontario. That was a life-changing experience for all of us. Sarah has also been chosen to be the Champion child for “Champions across Canada”, which is sponsored by Wal-Mart and allows her the privilege to represent London’s Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario for 2006.
Sarah is a precious gift to our family and we would not have her without the unselfish gift of some family out there who was thoughtful and generous enough to share the gift of life with us. Our family thanks them from the bottom of our hearts and not a day goes by in my life that I don’t think of them.
By: Sarah’s mom, Cindy Marshall