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Transplant donor found for toddler

Aug 11 2012
Kaiya McEwen was diagnosed with alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency. 

Kaiya McEwen was diagnosed with alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency.

Photograph by: Family photo

After taking a turn for the worse this week, a toddler with a rare liver condition and her family received good news - a relative is approved to be her live donor.

The family from Pender Island found out on Thursday that 18-month-old Kaiya McEwen's great aunt will be able to provide part of her liver to Kaiya.

Kaiya has a liver condition called alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency. Although they initially thought it could be managed through medication, the family was later told she would need a liver transplant.

Danette Stranan, Kaiya's grandmother, said the news couldn't come at a better time.

Kaiya was airlifted to B.C. Children's Hospital on Aug. 5 because of a complication with her liver and was treated for dilated veins in her esophagus, blood clots and internal bleeding.

"She's doing better now. She's just a little girl and it seems like it's been one nightmare after another," Stranan said Friday. "Now, we're trying to get to Edmonton."

The live liver transplant will take place at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, where Stranan's sister Jane Harrison tested positive to be the donor.

The family is planning on travelling to Edmonton as soon as possible to be ready for the Sept. 26 surgery date.

"Once Kaiya's there, there will be a huge weight off of our shoulders," Stranan said.

While Kaiya and her mom, Rita McEwen, will likely fly to Edmonton, Stranan said the rest of the family, including Kaiya's dad, Josh Westlind and her older brother, Evan, will make a road trip out of it.

She said Kaiya's condition has been a financial burden for the family.

An organization on Pender Island, the Green Angels, has been able to provide $1,500 to the family for their living costs and have offered to help with financing the family's trip to Edmonton.


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