A Mother’s Love: Taya & Jennifer’s Story
Taya’s journey with liver disease began in August of 2007 when she entered into the world. The first couple weeks of life went according to plan; she was developing and growing normally, despite a nagging yellow tinge in her eyes and skin.
“She had 10 little toes and fingers, and a set of very good lungs,” says Jennifer, Taya’s mom. “When we asked nurses what the yellow tinge could be, they suggested that perhaps it was breastmilk jaundice”.
Later due to the advice of a friend (a nurse at the Alberta Children’s Hospital), Jennifer and her husband were advised to take Taya to the emergency room. Their world would soon be turned upside.
Taya was diagnosed as a newborn with biliary atresia, a liver disease that is the leading cause of liver failure in newborns and children, her parents were in absolute shock. At just 11 weeks-old, Taya underwent a five-hour surgery called the “Kasai procedure” required to prevent further damage on her liver and save her liver. The surgery was a success, but one thing was certain; Taya would need a liver transplant in her future.
Despite some ups and downs with liver infections, Taya seemed to endure the first decade of her life quite well. However, due to her aggressive liver disease, Taya soon developed hepatopulmonary syndrome, a condition where blood vessels in the lungs become enlarged, causing shortness of breath and low oxygen levels. Seeing her condition worsen, Taya’s doctors put her on the liver transplant list in August 2017.
After numerous tests, it was discovered that Jennifer was a suitable match and could serve as Taya’s living donor. Taya successfully received a portion of her mom’s liver on December 12, 2017. Though mom and daughter are both doing well, Taya’s journey is not over yet. She will continue to be carefully monitored, learning to adapt to a new life; transitioning from a baby with liver disease, to a young recipient of a liver transplant, where she will likely have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.
Through it all, Taya and Jen’s story has been an inspiration. Taya, just shy of 11-years-old, has remained strong and positive, with hopes and dreams for a bigger, brighter future. Jen of course, embodies what it means to be a mother and a parent; loving her children unconditionally, having patience during tough times and persevering for the sake of her family’s wellbeing.
Taya and Jennifer’s ultimate goal is to live in a world where no child will suffer each day with liver disease. We thank them both for all their eagerness and commitment to helping the Canadian Liver Foundation in numerous events, and by educating all they come in contact with on the importance of liver health.