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Life is a Gift: Sara’s Battle with Hepatoblastoma

The Moment That Changed Everything

On March 29, 2015, Jean’s life was forever changed. Her beautiful, 10-month old daughter Sara was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma, or cancer of the liver. Now it was time to wait while the oncology and GI teams decided on the best treatment plan. It would be a full 72 hours before Jean found out that the best option for her daughter would be a transplant.

Over the next eight months, Sara would have a central line placed, begin chemotherapy, be listed for a transplant, lose her hair because of treatment, have her 1st birthday, endure numerous hospitalizations, scans, and lab work. Sara would be called in for six potential transplants before she was able to have the surgery, as Jean fought to remain hopeful and strong.

A Gift of Life

“On November 24, 2015, Sara received her Gift of Life. A beautiful 14-year old boy, Da’Quan, saved the lives of five children, all of them patients at Children’s Wisconsin, something that had never happened before. Sara and a then 4-year old boy share a liver. (They are liver twins!) The moment Sara’s liver was removed, she was officially NED!” Jean recalls. Sara’s prognosis is extremely good, and her oncology team is confident that her Hepatoblastoma will not return.

Looking on the Bright Side

The post-transplant life has not been easy, and Sara’s rejection episodes and liver infection serve as painful reminders of the trials they will face in the future. However, Jean continues to look on the bright side. “She’s currently medically stable, and that’s a wonderful place to be!”

Jean is now looking toward Sara’s future, and knows that whatever it holds, Sara is strong enough to face it. “The past four years have been an indescribable roller coaster and has changed me forever. We don’t know what the future holds, but Sara is the most amazing person I know, and her strong personality will take care of her!”

Sara’s story was submitted by her mother, Jean Nylund. To share your experience with childhood cancer or a related blood disorder, please email dtorgerson@maccfund.org

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