A Red Bank couple hope they have found “the perfect, needle-in-a-haystack” organ donor they’ve been seeking for their ailing infant daughter.
The donor is a distant member of the family — and a fellow Jersey girl!
Three-month-old Edie Rose O’Neill, the only child of Bridget and Justin O’Neill, and her living liver donor Becky O’Neill underwent transplant surgery in Philadelphia over the weekend.
Edie has been in intensive care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia since January 11, following a rapid deterioration of her health due to an undiagnosed liver ailment. A portion of Becky’s liver was transplanted to the infant.
Patients receiving a liver transplant get a portion of the donor’s healthy liver. Over approximately the next two months, the remaining and transplanted parts of both livers grow to normal size, providing normal long-term liver function for the donor and the recipient.
While Edie was on a deceased-donor list, medical professionals and the O’Neill family also conducted a search for a living donor that drew hundreds of responses, which were culled for potential matches.
Because she weighs only 8 pounds, Edie’s ideal match was said to be someone between the ages of 21 and 30, with a blood type either A or O (positive or negative) and weighing 100 pounds or less. More than 100 potential donors came forward.
Becky, who is Bridget’s youngest cousin on her father’s side of the family, is 22 years old. According to Bridget’s Facebook page, she graduated from Colgate University in May and lives in Long Branch.
“Becky has made this selfless decision and has handled each step in the process with a poised confidence that is beyond admirable,” Bridget wrote. “Edie & Becky have safely made it through their surgeries and are both resting in hospitals across the street from one another. Please keep them & their doctors in your continued thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks and months.” She adds:
“We could never ever thank her appropriately for this gift of life she is giving. As both of our girls go into their surgeries tomorrow morning, they will be earning their ‘respective badges of honor’ that will bond them forever.”