A Syracuse, New York infant has miraculously survived COVID-19 and a liver transplant in two months.
Kasen Donerlson, who turns 1-year-old Thursday, contracted the coronavirus while waiting for an organ to become available, his mom Mitayah Donerlson told Syracuse.com.
“It’s a complete miracle,” she told the local news outlet.
When Kasen was born in January of last year, he was extremely jaundiced and wasn’t gaining weight. In March 2020, the baby was diagnosed with biliary atresia, when the liver’s bile ducts don’t properly develop.
Although Kasen underwent a procedure to attempt to fix the problem, it didn’t work. In July, Donerlson was told her son would require a liver transplant to survive. He was placed on a waiting list, and his liver continued to worsen.
But on November 21, Kasen awoke feeling hot. “His whole body felt like it was on fire from head to toe,” Donerlson said. She rushed him to the hospital, where another medical nightmare emerged: He tested positive for COVID-19.
“Being completely honest, I immediately thought of death,’’ she said. “He was already fighting for his life, and then he gets COVID. My heart just dropped.”
His infection delayed his eligibility to get a new liver for one month, and Donerlson worried that if one were to become available, he would miss his window for a new life.
Luckily, Kasen’s fever broke, and he no longer showed any other COVID symptoms.
On January 2, she received a call that a deceased donor would be a good match for Kasen. She drove her family, including her 5-year-old son, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Kasen underwent a 9-hour surgery at UPMC Children’s Hospital the next day.
She noted that when she saw her son for the first time after surgery, his eyes were white, not yellow as they had been. “There’s no sign of rejection. Now we just take it one day at a time,” Donerlson said. Although he remains in the hospital for monitoring, he’s playful and energetic. Donerlson is renting an apartment in the area to be close to him.
A GoFundMe to help the family with medical expenses has raised over $15,000 so far.
“It’s a complete miracle,” said Donerlson. “We are so blessed.”
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