Father donates liver tissue to save son’s life, and the family gets a
visit from CHLA’s first-ever living donor liver patient, now all grown up
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–At 7 months old, Donovan Daniels of Westminster may not
understand for some time just how serious his medical condition, biliary
atresia, really is. It may be years before he knows he was the 300th
pediatric liver transplant ever performed by doctors at Children’s
Hospital Los Angeles and Keck Medicine of University of Southern
California. But one day he’ll know his father Dejon Daniels went under
the knife so that a portion of dad’s liver could help him live a longer,
In the meantime, Dejon and Donovan’s mother Jessica Valdepeña got a
glimpse of what that life might look like, thanks to a meeting with a
young woman named Lydia Hand.
Lydia, now 18, was CHLA’s first living donor liver transplant patient.
As an infant, she also was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare
life-threatening disease where bile ducts cannot expel bile from the
liver. In 1998, Lydia received a liver from her grandmother. Today, the
Lancaster resident is a college freshman majoring in music, and says her
donated liver is still going strong.
“It’s pretty amazing how far she has come,” says Jessica. “I want
Donovan to grow up and have a bright future just like Lydia is having.”
CHLA’s Liver and Intestinal Transplant Program has since grown to become
one of the largest programs in the country – the hospital is now a
consistent leader in the volume of living
donor liver transplants performed nationwide among pediatric
centers, with success rates well above national averages.
“But statistics are not the real story,” says Daniel
Thomas, MD, medical director of the Liver and Intestinal Transplant
Program at CHLA. “It is seeing patients like Lydia Hand grow,
accomplish, and live to be a happy young woman with a life full of
dreams and hopes.”
Coincidentally, the same team that worked on liver patient No. 1 also
treated patient No. 300. Dr. Thomas,
a Glendale resident, is both Lydia’s and Donovan’s hepatologist while Yuri
Genyk, MD, of La Cañada, was their transplant surgeon.
“Donovan’s success is truly the culmination of the knowledge and skills
from the 299 liver transplants that preceded him, including Lydia’s,”
says Dr. Genyk, surgical director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant
Program at CHLA and associate professor of clinical surgery in the
Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Abdominal Organ Transplantation at
the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “It speaks to the expertise and
dedication of the entire liver transplant team, as well as the
collective support we receive from all the services CHLA provides.”
When Donovan’s parents brought him to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in
October, doctors told them Donovan urgently needed a new liver. Dejon
volunteered and was found to be a match. The transplant took place Nov.
18, with Dr. Genyk performing both parts – Dejon’s surgery at USC in the
morning and Donovan’s transplant at CHLA several hours later. Dejon was
released and finally was able to visit Donovan just in time for
Lydia and Donovan’s family met in Donovan’s hospital room on Dec. 1, the
day he was discharged.
“I’ve heard all the stories about my transplant from my family, but to
actually see and hear what their family is going through is a special
experience,” says Lydia. “Donovan is me, I was once him, and it’s
incredible to know that hundreds of other kids have received this
life-saving procedure at CHLA in the years between us,” Lydia said.
By the day Donovan left the hospital, CHLA doctors had already performed
three more pediatric liver transplants.
[High resolution photos available on request]
About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a nonprofit pediatric health care
organization dedicated to creating hope and building healthier futures
for children. Founded in 1901, CHLA is one of the nation’s leading
children’s hospitals and is acknowledged worldwide for its leadership in
pediatric and adolescent health. CHLA is one of only 11 children’s
hospitals in the nation—and the top-ranked pediatric facility in
California—to be named to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor
Roll for 2016-17.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Owen Lei, 323-361-8433