Fishers 1-year-old doing well after liver transplant

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – Two weeks after receiving a liver transplant at Riley Hospital for Children, a one-year-old from Fishers is well on her way to a new life.

Zoe Anderson snacked on Cheerios, babbled and smiled in her hospital crib during a visit with reporters on Monday afternoon.

Zoe is talkative and playful and feeling healthy for the first time in her 13 months of life.

“She's like a different baby, like we're finally seeing the real her without liver disease,” said Zoe’s mother, Carly Anderson. “So, she has more energy, even for being here in the hospital. She's doing great."

"She's doing awesome, as you see,” said Dr. Jean Molleston, Zoe’s gastroenterologist. “Her liver works, and it makes the proteins it needs to make, and it cleans up her blood like it's supposed to."

When WTHR first introduced Zoe back in January, she was about to go on the transplant waiting list. Her skin was jaundiced, and her eyes had a yellow tint because her liver was not moving bile to her intestines.

Zoe suffered from a rare liver disease called biliary atresia in which the bile ducts are abnormally narrow, blocked or absent. The body is not able to remove bile, causing more damage to the liver and other problems with growth and nutrition.

Now the yellow is gone from her beautiful blue eyes and her skin has some baby pink after a liver transplant March 19.

“Every time you do this operation it's a miracle,” said Riley transplant surgeon Dr. Richard Mangus, who procured the organ from the child donor and preformed Zoe’s transplant surgery.

“It's a miracle that it can work. It works a very high percentage of the time with very good outcomes. You really give people their life back."

The phone call about the available liver came to the Anderson family around 7:15 p.m. on a Sunday evening. They had Zoe at the hospital within an hour. The transplant operation took place the next morning.

“For us it's a gift,” said Carly. “Her name means life. She definitely received the ultimate gift by this new liver.”

“Once she heals up she can go on to live a perfectly healthy life on a gift that, medically speaking, is pretty remarkable that you can transplant an organ and in two weeks-time just be ready to hit the road,” said Seth Anderson, Zoe’s father.

Zoe might get to go home later this week to see her two big brothers, Brody and Keegan.

Dr. Mangus says about 7,000 liver transplants are performed each year in the United States with about a 90 percent success rate, even higher for children. He stresses the need for child organ donors, especially infants. He says no parent wants to face such a heart wrenching decision, but a child donor organ can serve the recipient for decades and give a new life to someone like Zoe.

The Anderson family is receiving support from friends and family and the Children's Organ Transplant Association. They have set up an account to receive donations for the approximate $500,000 cost of the transplant surgery.

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