3-Year-Old Gets New Liver, Thanks to Facebook

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Firefighter Michael Thompson donated 25 percent of his liver on Tuesday to help save 3-year-old Kennedy McCoy of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, reports CBS News. Donya McCoy, one of Thompson’s former high school classmates, had made a plea on Facebook for help saving her daughter — and Thompson said he was inspired to act.

“One of the greatest things I will probably do in my life, give more life to another human,” Thompson wrote on his Facebook page in October. “Thank you, Donya McCoy, for letting me. And thanks to Kiersten Thompson for supporting me and being by my side.”

The 8-hour transplant surgery took place at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

At 8 months old, little Kennedy had a seizure, prompting doctors to do an MRI. The test showed white matter in her brain that looked like nothing doctors had seen before. And the little girls’ amino acid levels were off the charts. Doctors were baffled and one suggested consulting a retired 86-year old metabolic specialist named Harvey Mudd, MD.

Dr. Mudd came out of retirement to take on Kennedy’s case, and diagnosed her three weeks later with a rare metabolic disorder called S-adenoslhomocsteine hydrolase deficiency — a condition so rare that only eight people have ever been diagnosed with it. An enzyme deficiency keeps Kennedy from processing protein normally, leading to a dangerous buildup of toxic substances that cause degenerative neurological effects. Dr. Mudd changed her diet, but more treatment was needed to prevent her condition from getting worse, according to the report.

Eleven months after meeting Kennedy, Dr. Mudd died. Colleague Kevin Strauss, MD, medical director of the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, agreed to take over the case. Making the little girl his priority, Dr. Strauss quickly determined that a liver transplant was Kennedy’s best chance for survival. The little girl was put on an organ waiting list, but her prospects of getting a new liver weren’t good since this rare deficiency meant Kennedy’s liver would still be considered healthy by waiting list standards. She needed a living donor, and one who wasn’t related since the condition appears to be inherited.

So McCoy made her plea on Facebook — and Thompson changed their lives.

Both Kennedy and Michael are now recovering; Michael will miss a few months of work and Kennedy will spend a few months in the hospital. Now much more than just a Facebook friend, Michael is the hero who gave this 3-year-old a chance for a healthy life.

Photo: Getty