Little Cheyanne Leonard underwent a liver transplant at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha last Thursday and is being watched over closely. Parents of the 9-month-old girl are Mandy Page and Joey Leonard of Alta.
At the age of 3 months, Cheyanne was diagnosed with Biliary atresia - the absence or closure of the major bile ducts that drain bile from the liver. There is one case of biliary atresia out of every 15,000 live births and females are affected slightly more often than males.
At that time, surgery was performed to remove her gall bladder and attach the small intestine directly to the liver at the spot where bile is found or expected to drain. Her parents were told the surgery would be somewhat of a "band aid" and that a liver transplant would be necessary. Doctors wanted to wait until she was a little older.
A week after the surgery, Cheyanne had to have an emergency exploratory surgery in which doctors found a small perforation in her intestine which was stitched closed and a few months later she was admitted back into the hospital with a blood infection.
Testing was done with family members to see if anyone was a match; they were told an adult can give up a portion of his or her liver for a transplant to an infant.
It was discovered recently that dad Joey was a match; surgery was scheduled for March 4. This week, a call came in to the family from the hospital saying there was a match if they wanted to go ahead with the surgery sooner. They decided to go ahead rationalizing that if Cheyanne's body rejected the transplant, they could fall back on Joey being the donor.
The nearly five-hour transplant surgery was performed early Thursday morning and went well. She headed back to surgery on Sunday to allow doctors to check things over. They discovered an excess of fluid so they removed it. She is in a good place, getting good care. Family friend Jenny Ahlers commented, "She is just so precious and so little to be fighting something so big."
Cheyanne was off the ventilator shortly after surgery but on Monday, she was back on it.
Cheyanne will remain in the hospital for one to two weeks and will be required to stay in Omaha for three to six weeks due to weekly blood tests that will be required at the hospital and to make sure the new liver is not being rejected. The family will be staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Cheyanne's big brother Landon, 4, is full of questions, and quite concerned.
The family is not aware of any further surgeries that will be necessary but Cheyanne will need to take anti-rejection medicine all of her life. That, they can handle.
Mandy and Joey shared this comment, "We want to let everyone know we appreciate all of their prayers. We have been saying a lot of those lately."
If you would like to send the family a note, please send it to:
125 Leander St.
Alta, IA 51002
If you would like to help the family financially please send donations to:
Security Trust and Savings Bank
Cheyanne Page Account
C/O Mandy Page
601 Lake Ave.
Storm Lake, Iowa 50588
Prayers are also welcome.