Wooster girl Cincinnati Children’s Hospital first altruistic liver transplant


By creator to www.cincinnati.com

Olive plops onto her mother’s lap, trying bored. She shifts round and rests her head on her dad’s shoulder, oblivious to the adults’ dialog – which is about her.

Then she slides off Angie Sommers’ lap and darts away. Only a regular 5-year-old.

A 5-year-old whose mother and father imagine she is blessed to be bored. Or mischievous, or to chop paper intently, or to be “feisty.”

As a result of Olive, whose household lives in Wooster, Ohio, has a transplanted liver that got here from a stranger who lives 285 miles away. Amanda Powell of Lexington, Kentucky, now 31, had wished to be a residing organ donor since she was about 14 and browse in {a magazine} about organ donation. And because it turned out, Powell simply occurred to be an ideal match for Olive, who’d been ready greater than a 12 months for a liver that might save her life.

And so the 2, of their separate methods, converged to grow to be sufferers in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s first “altruistic” liver transplant, nearly a 12 months in the past. It is known as altruistic as a result of the donor comes ahead with no connection to the recipient. Cincinnati Kids’s saved the surgical procedure a little bit of a secret to outsiders for nearly a 12 months. It wished to ensure Olive was therapeutic and Powell was therapeutic, and that either side of this medical triumph had an opportunity to fulfill – which was a thwarted plan till August due to COVID-19.

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However no period of time has diminished Cincinnati Kids’s Dr. Greg Tiao’s impression of what Powell did for Olive.

“Olive actually received a miracle present from this particular person,” mentioned Tiao, the hospital’s surgical director of liver transplantation.

Nor has his admiration for Olive’s household waned.

“This baby’s household knew she had a continual liver illness,” he mentioned. “They selected to do one thing outstanding: They adopted her.”


Olive was born in China and was recognized there with a liver illness known as biliary atresia. It is a developmental downside with bile ducts, Tiao mentioned. It often occurs in youngsters who’re regular at start however over time, the bile ducts start to scar and so they ultimately block. 

About 90% of kids who’ve the illness and don’t get a brand new liver are lifeless by age 2, Tiao mentioned.

Olive lived in an orphanage till after she was 2.

Paul and Angie Sommers had 5 different youngsters once they realized about Olive. They’d adopted their youngest on the time, Josie, who was 4. They realized every thing they might concerning the child woman who wanted a house and about her illness as they thought of adopting Olive. They even thought, what if Olive does not make it?

However after a lot praying and considering, Paul Sommers mentioned, “We could not consider any cause why we might say no to this baby.”

They received her a health care provider, Kathy Campbell, a gastroenterologist and medical director of the Liver Inpatient Unit at Cincinnati Kids’s. Then they went to China and received Olive. She was obsessive about furiously scratching at invisible itches, a symptom that is frequent with liver illness. She was fussy, simply falling into inconsolable crying matches, her mother mentioned. 

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However at considered one of her first Cincinnati Kids’s visits, Olive was given treatment that made the feeling of itching fade. She turned a sleeper at night time, an eater by day, and she or he started to develop into the full of life baby that the Sommers now name their “loudest.” And their “quickest.”

“It was a game-changer. Nearly like we had a brand new baby,” mentioned her father.

She lived her life attending to know her sisters and brothers, reluctantly taking a mass of nutritional vitamins every single day and often visiting Dr. Campbell.

She was steady, Tiao mentioned, and was placed on the liver transplant record in 2018.


Then in the future greater than a 12 months later, Powell determined that the timing was proper for her to donate. 

She’d researched residing organ donations. “I made a decision on the liver,” she mentioned. The surgical procedure is just not simple, Tiao mentioned.

“I knew I wished to do a youngsters’s hospital,” she mentioned.

Powell related with Cincinnati Kids’s Residing Donor program. She and her husband Josh advised their children what she was as much as as she started a testing course of in March 2019.

“It is fairly intense,” she mentioned. There have been MRIs and bloodwork and a psychological evaluation. “They’re doing every thing to ensure the donor is secure,” she mentioned.


When Angie Sommers received the information from Campbell {that a} donor had been positioned – a residing donor who was an ideal match for Olive – she was surprised.

“I feel that I used to be so shocked that I nearly did not have a response,” she mentioned.

Her husband had an analogous response: “That is unimaginable, that your baby, who got here into our household from China … to some small city in Ohio,” Paul Sommers mentioned, trailing off. “She finally ends up at Cincinnati Kids’s and is simply ready, after which somebody that we do not even know comes ahead.

“It completely caught me off guard,” he mentioned. “We felt like God orchestrated the entire thing for Olive to outlive.”

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Powell is not positive that what she did was all that spectacular.

“To me it was like a no brainer,” she mentioned. “You’ve got this massive surgical procedure and you need to get well, however on the finish, it is like, you are giving any person the choice to dwell.” The time concerned, the surgical procedure, the ache, she mentioned, “it is like, no matter. No matter.”

Powell’s surgical procedure, headed by Tiao, went easily. Olive’s surgical procedure, headed by Dr. Maria Alonso, additionally went easily.

And Olive, being Olive, was a screamer and fighter nearly instantly afterward, her dad mentioned.

“Her total existence has been combating,” Paul Sommers mentioned. “Olive, good grief. Every part she does she simply kicks butt at.”


About six months after their surgical procedures, Powell was requested throughout a telehealth go to whether or not she’d like to fulfill the one who’d obtained her liver donation. She mentioned sure.

Angie and Paul Sommers have been requested whether or not they’d like to fulfill Olive’s donor. They mentioned sure.

COVID-19 pandemic restrictions delayed the assembly till August.

Within the meantime, Angie Sommers made a scrapbook of Olive and her journey for Powell. “I wished her to know this baby, and simply how a lot she impacted this baby.”

Then, lastly, the day got here: On Aug. 25, the Sommers household walked right into a Cincinnati Kids’s room and noticed Amanda Powell.

“All I wished to do was simply to hug her and thank her,” Angie Sommers mentioned.

Powell mentioned she was overwhelmed on the sight of Olive.

“I simply began to cry.”

Olive was shy. She clung to her mother. However as time went on, Powell noticed Olive’s “energetic” character emerge.

Olive’s mother and father marvel at their daughter’s vitality now. They’ll all have fun the primary anniversary of her liver transplant on Dec. 10, and the Sommers household intends to keep up a relationship with Powell.

For now, Olive likes to play outdoors. She likes to experience her bike, sing and play dress-up with Josie, now 6. 

“Olive is doing wonderful,” her dad mentioned. “You’ll by no means know that she had a liver transplant.”

Then he broke right into a smile, including, “She’s only a common child.”

Learn or Share this story: https://www.cincinnati.com/story/information/2020/11/25/wooster-girl-cincinnati-childrens-hospital-first-altruistic-liver-transplant/6338381002/

— to www.cincinnati.com

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