1/2/2013 9:47:00 PM
By Linda Collins
ENON — Enon residents Kevin Kaufman and Leah Moliengo are celebrating New Years in a very special way with their 1-year-old daughter, Claire.
On New Year’s Day, the couple received the phone call that they have been waiting for since physicians at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center placed Claire on a national liver donor list in July.
“They got the call around 3 p.m., and was told that the hospital received a whole liver from a donor who had passed away,” said Heather Kaufman, who is Chief of the Hustead EMS Department and Claire’s aunt. “They bundled up the baby and headed for the hospital.”
After assessing the situation throughout the day, the transplant team confirmed that the donor’s liver was a good match for baby Claire and proceeded with the seven-hour surgery at 11 p.m. New Year’s night.
According to Kaufman, the liver began to function as soon as surgeons transplanted it into Claire’s little body. Kaufman noted that the baby’s bilirubin level improved quickly as well. “When she went into surgery, Claire’s bilirubin level was 18. Soon after she came out of surgery at 6 a.m. this morning, her bilirubin level was eight,” Kaufman said on Tuesday. “Her toes are pink, and she is getting pinker already.”
Although grateful for the anonymous family who donated the liver, Kaufman noted, Claire’s parents asked family and friends to pray for the bereaved family of the deceased donor as well as for little Claire’s full recovery.
“It means a lot to know that parents of a child, who has passed, decided to do such a wonderful, unselfish thing, giving a second chance for life to another child,” said Kaufman.
Kaufman said Claire will remain in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for a period of time as surgeons monitor the baby’s recovery.
Claire was born with the rare congenital condition, Biliary Atresia, which affects the bile ducts that secrete bile from the liver, causing jaundice, cirrhosis of the liver, and eventually, liver failure. Although the condition affects one in 15,000 newborn babies, physicians do not know what causes the incurable condition, making liver transplantation inevitable for the baby’s survival.
Faced with mounting medical costs, the Kaufman family turned to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA). The national organization helps children and young adults, in need of life-saving transplants, by providing fundraising assistance and family support. COTA does not charge for its services and does not take a percentage of funds raised.
Known as “Claire’s Kare Bears,” family, friends, and community volunteers, including COTA Media Representative Sherry Matsel and Community Coordinator Elise Click, continue their quest to raise funds to help defray costs of the liver transplant for Claire.
With a fundraising goal of $50,000, COTA has raised more than $25,000 to date.
“We’ve done it, we reached our halfway goal in less than four months since we initially started our campaign towards raising the $50,000 for COTA, in support of Claire’s transplant-related expenses,” Matsel said.
As they close in on reaching the $50,000 mark, Claire’s Kare Bears have organized several fundraisers in January and February.
COTA volunteers are holding a dining out event at Milano’s Atlantic City Submarines 2260 N. Fairfield Road in Beavercreek, on Wednesday, Jan. 9, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Twenty percent of each dining purchase will be donated to COTA to assist with Claire’s transplant-related expenses.
Several Dayton area comedians will be performing at Wiley’s Comedy Club, 101 Pine St. in Dayton, 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20. Door proceeds and donations will go directly to COTA, in honor of Claire.
Friday Feb. 8, HeartPeople Creator, Devon Hansen, will be hosting an art show and sale at her gallery at 1917 E. Third St. in Dayton. Claire’s art will also be available for purchase at the art show. Portion of the proceeds will go to benefit COTA in honor of Claire. For more information, visit www.heartpeople.com.
Individuals may donate to Claire’s transplant-related expenses by visiting www.CotaforClairek.com or call Elise Click at 937-206-5606. Families can also register their Kroger Rewards Card at www.krogercommunityrewards.com. The organization number is 83263. For more information about these events, please contact Elise Click at 937-206-5606 or Sherry Matsel at 937-878-9707.
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