- Allie Driva was born with biliary atresia which caused her liver to fail
- Family told she would die without a transplant after treatment didn’t work
- Father Ryan was found to be a match and donated part of his own liver
- He shared pictures of her swelling and rotten liver to encourage donors
Allie Driva’s diseased liver was black and hardened – like a lump of coal – when it was removed from her tiny body in July last year.
She nearly died after suffering from biliary atresia, a condition where the bile ducts become inflamed and blocked, causing the liver to fail.
Now a healthy 18-month-old, she was saved after receiving a live transplant from her father Ryan, 30, a year ago.
Baby Allie Driva, pictured the day before her life-saving transplant, was born with biliary atresia, causing her liver to fail and her stomach to swell
Father Ryan Driva, pictured with Allie months after the transplant, said it was the ‘happiest moment of his life’ when he learned his liver was a match for his desperately ill daughter
Mr Driva, from Los Angeles, described how when she was born, he and Allie’s mother, Analisia, put her yellowish skin and eyes down to jaundice.
But within weeks she had been diagnosed with the potentially fatal liver condition.
In April last year, she underwent a procedure where a portion of her intestine was taken and attached to her liver to help bile flow away from the organ.
But the bid to cure her at Kaiser Medical Centre, was unsuccessful and her condition rapidly deteriorated, causing her stomach to swell.
‘If you touched her stomach, you could feel her liver. It was rock-hard when it should have been soft,’ said Mr Driva.
‘Doctors said she had a few months to get a transplant or she would die. It was terrifying. We were so scared and crying.’
The condition caused Allie, pictured, to look jaundiced with yellow skin and eyes. But whereas jaundice is common in and mostly clears within weeks of birth, biliary atresia can be fatal
Allie has recovered well since her transplant (left) and is now walking and talking. Her liver had become black and hardened after it failed (right)
In June 2015 at she was put on the liver transplant waiting list at the city’s Children’s Hospital.
She was five months old when the couple were given the devastating news that if she did not receive a transplant immediately, Allie would die.
With time running out, the idea of a live transplant – using part of an organ, taken from a living donor – was mooted.
HOW DO LIVING LIVER TRANSPLANTS WORK?
The type of transplant Allie had is called a living donor liver transplant.
This is where a section of liver is removed from a living donor – because the liver can regenerate itself.
This means both the transplanted section and the remaining section of the donor’s liver are able to regrow into a normal-sized liver.
Within six weeks of donating part of his liver, Mr Diva’s liver will have grown back to its original size.
Blood tests revealed Mr Driva to be a match and in July last year he learnt he could donate part of his liver to his daughter.
‘Learning that I could save my daughter was the happiest moment of my life,’ he said.
‘I would have done anything to save her.’
Mr Driva was taken for surgery at USC Tech Medical Center, where he underwent a six-hour operation in which surgeons took the left lobe from his liver.
It was put on ice and driven to the children’s hospital about two miles away, where it was transplanted during a six-hour operation, while his wife waited anxiously.
Mr Driva, who also has five-year-old daughter Ava, was unable to walk for a couple of days as doctors had cut through his stomach muscles.
But the first thing he wanted to do was see his little girl.
‘When I saw her she was smiling, and I held her and it felt really good,’ he said.
The 18-month-old tot, pictured at the beach with mother Analisa, is recovering well after the transplant a year ago
The family now want others to join organ donor registers after Allie’s ordeal, pictured alongside big sister Allie
‘She recovered so well and I saw the whites of her eyes for the first time and her skin was fair.’
To mark the one-year anniversary of her transplant, Mr Driva, an accountant, decided to post photos of Allie’s liver online.
He had not thought about becoming a living donor until medics suggested it.
‘I shared the image of Allie’s liver because I want people to become donors, so their organs don’t go to waste when they die. People could be saving lives.
‘Seeing the difference is amazing. It is incredible to think she survived so long with such a sickly organ.’
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