CHEEKTOWAGA, NY- Ask any mother and she would tell you she'd do whatever it takes to make her sick child well again. One Cheektowaga mother went to the extreme, giving her baby part of her own liver.
Cordelia Minter was diagnosed at age 10 weeks with an extremely rare condition called Biliary Atresia, after her parents, Danielle and Cliff, noticed she was yellow and her stomach was distended. Doctors don't know the cause, but Biliary Atresia occurs when bile flow from the liver to the gallbladder is blocked. The bile is then trapped inside the liver, quickly causing cirrhosis and eventually liver failure. It affects only about 1 in 15,000 babies.
Without a liver transplant, Cordelia didn't have long to live. They immediately went to Cincinnati Children's Hospital, which is one of the best in the nation for pediatric liver conditions. They hoped an initial surgery there, a Kasai procedure, would cure the baby. Sadly, it was unsuccessful.
"At that point her liver was already too far gone," said Danielle.
Cordelia was officially placed on the transplant list. But time was not on their side and they had to make a life-saving decision.
"They said they really didn't think she would've lasted a few more days and they were amazed she didn't get infected," said Danielle.
Cliff and Danielle were tested to see if they could be living donors. Cliff's liver was too big, but Danielle was a match. The Minters were told their surgery would only be the 6th of its kind performed by the hospital in the past 10 years. Still mom didn't have any second thoughts about giving a quarter of her liver to her daughter.
"I really don't need that piece, because your liver does regenerate, so they take that piece and mine grows back, and hers will grow with her as she gets older," said Danielle.
After the 12 hour surgeries each for mom and baby, doctors told them it would take Cordelia 6 months to recover. It only took her 6 weeks.
Throughout this ordeal the Minters say their faith has grown, as has their appreciation for the little things in life.
"We weren't sure that she would make it so now knowing that she is going to make it, she's going to get to grow older and stuff, [we've got] a lot more patience in the middle of the night if she wakes up crying," said Danielle.
Cordelia is now 6 months old and Danielle and Cliff plan on returning to work soon. Danielle is employed by Verizon Wireless, Cliff with Amherst Alarm. The surgery itself cost as much as $350,000 and friends are holding a benefit Sunday at Main-Transit Fire Company to help with expenses not covered by insurance, and life expenses piling up when you're out of work for more than 3 months.