New Mexico teen who received a liver transplant starts support group


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A brand new examine reveals that COVID-19 slowed the variety of organ transplants achieved within the U.S. between March and April of this yr.


LAS CRUCES – A Las Cruces teenager who obtained a liver transplant when she was 9 months outdated, together with a gaggle of different teenage organ transplant recipients from throughout the nation, has began a help group for youngsters and teenagers like her.

“I had a situation referred to as biliary atresia,” mentioned Sienna Torrez, 17, a scholar at Arrowhead Park Early Faculty Excessive Faculty.

After her transplant, Sienna mentioned her mother and father met one other household who had a child with the identical situation and have become mates. Final yr, Sienna and her buddy went to a camp referred to as St. Dorothy’s Relaxation, for youth transplant recipients in California. 

“That is the place we met everybody else who’s part of this group now,” she mentioned. 

The web help group is accessible for youth ages 0-18 who’re both awaiting a transplant or have already obtained one. 

Extra: Las Cruces teenager born with heart defect awaits transplant surgery

Overcoming her scar 

As a result of she was a child when she obtained her transplant, Sienna mentioned she did not perceive how traumatic of an expertise that was for her household, however as she grew up she started to appreciate that she was totally different from different kids her age. 

“I used to be all the time the one going to docs the entire time and my mates weren’t and I all the time took medicine and I assumed that is what everybody did and I noticed that was really not what everybody did,” she mentioned. 

Associated: The moment a Las Cruces teen finds out he is getting a new heart

One of many greatest obstacles Sienna mentioned she needed to overcome was changing into assured about her transplant scar, as a result of it is not regular to see individuals with scars at such a younger age. 

At 17, Sienna mentioned she has by no means been to a public swimming pool with mates as a result of she has by no means felt snug in her personal pores and skin along with her scar. 

“It took me to only this yr that I barely began getting snug with it. It is nearly confidence and studying to be snug inside your self. I hope to make use of my expertise to assist different children, too, as a result of I do know it is a huge problem that almost all transplant recipients do face,” she mentioned.

Associated: Brannden Fernandez recovering after heart transplant

Going to the camp was one of many greatest catalysts for her in gaining the boldness she wanted to face this problem. 

“Studying that I am not the one one with one, however my scar is not as huge or as deep as the opposite ones that I’ve seen. It made me notice that everybody is totally different. Everybody ought to be capable of love themselves, it doesn’t matter what,” she mentioned.

Life as a transplant recipient 

For the primary 5 to 10 years after receiving an organ transplant, Sienna mentioned life is extra drastically totally different, however now that she’s older she would not really feel that a lot totally different than different youngsters her age. 

“However I’ve been fortunate,” Sienna mentioned. “I do know individuals who haven’t been as fortunate. I do know a lady who’s my age and she or he nonetheless has to go to the hospital and she or he nonetheless has to do exams and so they nonetheless fear if she’s OK.”

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Many instances in these conditions, mother and father are scared too —ut Sienna mentioned that issues do are inclined to get higher.

Quickly to graduate from highschool, Sienna plans on ultimately going to medical faculty. 

“My expertise actually helped form me to actually wish to turn out to be a physician, from the time I used to be little or no,” she mentioned. 

Widespread floor 

For the zero-to-5 age group, the kids plan to give attention to the mother and father of those kids, as a result of they realized that their mother and father needed to study in regards to the situations and what comes together with transplant surgical procedure. 

Associated: Las Cruces COVID-19 survivor who received double lung transplant will be going home

For kids within the 6-12 age group, the kids will give attention to educating them about what a transplant is and serving to them to really feel snug in their very own pores and skin. 

“And educating them, actually, why they should take medicine, why are they just a little bit totally different, why they should go to the hospital typically — particularly in the event that they’re about to have a transplant. I do know there’ve been children who’ve had nightmares about it, both pre- or post-(surgical procedure), and we actually simply wish to be there for them to assist them alongside their journey,” she mentioned. 

The 13-14 age group might be a help, advocacy and consciousness group that can give attention to elevating consciousness for organ donation. 

“I believe it is actually essential as a result of, although 90 p.c of Individuals are in settlement with organ donation, solely 60 p.c of them really signal as much as be organ donors. That 60 p.c is nice, however it may be even higher and save much more lives,” she mentioned 

Organ donation provides sick kids a possibility to dwell and a possibility to know what it is like to not be sick. 

Associated: 20-year-old woman in need of second heart transplant

They plan on engaging in their targets by internet hosting Zoom conferences, since it is a nationwide help group. With the little children, Sienna mentioned they plan on making issues actually enjoyable for them whereas explaining the journey to them on the identical time. 

A nationwide community of help 

Different members of the group embrace Khlieghya Dandie-Evans, who obtained a liver transplant when she was 5 months outdated. Since she was 5 years outdated, Khlieghya has been an advocate and face of the transplant group. 

Grace Garcia obtained a liver transplant when she was eight months outdated. 

Others are studying:

Turner Hill, who’s now 18, obtained a kidney his first transplant when he was 2-and-a-half years outdated. Sienna mentioned that, since then, he has obtained a number of kidney transplants. 

Brandy Carew obtained a kidney transplant when she was eight years outdated. She is now 17. 

Ashley Andrade obtained a kidney transplant when she was 15. 

For extra details about the Youth Transplant Recipients help group, go to their web site at

Bethany Freudenthal may be reached at, 575-541-5449 or @bethanyfreuden1 on Twitter. 

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