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Liver transplant gives N.S. toddler new start in life | CTV Atlantic News

CTV Atlantic

Published Wednesday, June 19, 2013 7:21PM ADT

Last Updated Wednesday, June 19, 2013 7:22PM ADT

A Nova Scotia toddler has been given a new start in life after receiving a liver transplant.

Twenty-month-old Keynia Downey was born with an unhealthy liver and needed a transplant to get better. Her father, Brandon Walker, wanted to be a donor but he wasn’t a match.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to. I wasn’t a match fully, but my cousin, without even asking or anything, she stepped up and did it,” says Walker.

Keynia Downey is doing well after receiving a liver transplant, thanks to her cousin. (CTV Atlantic)

After many tests and trips to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, it was determined Downey’s cousin, Michelle Balcom, was a perfect match.

“No child deserves to be sick and I’ve gotten to live 27 years so far and life is amazing, so why not? If you’re able to help with something so small, why not give a child a chance?” says Balcom.

After a few false starts, doctors finally operated on Downey in March. The toddler experienced some complications.

She had to undergo three surgeries, and spent as many months in hospital, but is doing much better.

“It just made you feel so much happier to know that everything is working and that she will get better and hopeful that everything will be just fine,” says Balcom.

Downey’s family says they are thankful for her health, the care they received at the hospital, and to everyone who donated money to help with the unexpected financial costs.

Above all, they say they are grateful for the organ generously donated by Balcom.

“She is an amazing person. She is a lifesaver too,” says Walker. “If it wasn’t for her, who knows what would have happened.”

Downey is now on anti-rejection medication and doctors say she will be fine, as long as her body continues to accept her new liver.

“She is good, very strong little girl,” says Walker. “I don’t know how she did it.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kelland Sundahl

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