''The day I was matched, Ila's nurse on duty and all of us were crying because we were so thrilled.''
- Ila's mom, Maya
''We had one Ila before transplant, and another after. Her disposition changed drastically—she's so much happier.''
- Ila's dad, Srinivas
8-month-old Ila was one of the first patients to be treated in Packard's new Ford Family Surgery Center when surgeons transplanted a portion of her mom's liver, saving the baby's life.
In prior months, Ila had been gravely ill due to a rare congenital defect called biliary atresia: her bile duct, the tube that carries digestive juices from the liver to the small intestine, was missing. With nowhere to go, her bile attacked her healthy liver, causing liver failure. Most children with the condition need a transplant by age 3, but Ila was too sick to wait that long.
Fortunately for Ila, the liver transplant program at Packard is among the best in the world.
The fact that Ila's mom, Maya, matched as an organ donor was an extra stroke of luck. Ila became one of the 5-10 percent of Packard patients who receive a living-donor liver transplant.
Treating the tiniest and sickest children, like Ila, requires extra surgical skill. In the case of liver transplants, the hepatic artery in an infant may be only one to two millimeters in diameter. The Packard team is up to the challenge. ''We often take patients turned down by other centers,'' says Debra Strichartz, RN, the program's nurse manager.
The outlook for Ila's future is excellent. Seen in before and after photos, she goes rapidly from frail and limp to plump and grinning.