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Local child gets liver transplant just in time : Storm Lake Pilot Tribune

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

By DANA LARSEN / Pilot-Tribune Editor

When a miracle decides to happen, it can happen in a hurry.

A family that has been fighting since Christmas to obtain the liver transplant a toddler needed, saw the lifesaving surgery come together in a matter of hours last week.

Monserrat Flores, with her new organ, is doing well and beginning to gain weight. She is expected to be able to come home to Storm Lake in about a month.

Monserrat and her mother and older sister were visiting family in Storm Lake over Christmas, the first time any of them had been outside Mexico, when the 18-month-old became gravely ill on Christmas Day and had to be rushed to the emergency room. She was quickly transferred to an Omaha hospital, but with no citizenship and no insurance in the U.S., the family was told the surgery Monserrat needed would be impossible.

The family decided that her aunt and uncle in Storm Lake would legally adopt Monserrat and her sister, which allowed the child to be covered under their health insurance. She was finally placed on the organ transplant waiting list.

Her condition took a turn for the worst on Deb. 6, and Monserrat was hospitalized with internal hemorrhaging. She had been born with Biliary Atresia, a blockage in the tubes that filter the bile from the liver to the gallbladder, and her damaged organ has essentially given up. Surgeons in Mexico could do nothing for her; she was not expected to survive.

Due to the dire nature of her condition last week, she was bumped up to the top of the donor waiting list. On Ash Wednesday, the family got a call at 5 p.m. – a liver had been found and would be flown into the University of Nebraska at about 3 a.m. the next morning. The family packed and arrived there before the organ did.

Monserrat went into surgery at 6:30 Thursday morning and came out about noon, but drainage from the new liver concerned the surgeon, and at 10 p.m., she went back into surgery. A leak in the liver was located and repaired and her body cavity cleaned out, and she again emerged from surgery at about noon Friday. Three hours later, she was awake, happy and looking healthy, says her aunt, Gracie Vrieze, a community services officer with the Storm Lake Police.

Doctors are still dealing with a blood infection that Monserrat was suffering before the surgery. Her weight prior to finding the liver was a precarious 14 pounds. All signs are now positive, Vrieze says. Monserrat turned 20 months old Saturday with a new lease on life.

Plans are for both girls to live in Storm Lake with their adoptive family. Their mother will have to return to Mexico, but will visit as often as possible. Custody has been granted to the aunt and uncle, and finalization of the adoption could happen as soon as a week from now.

“We had thought about adoption for a while even before this,” Vrieze says. “We can provide a better life for them in Storm Lake than they could have in Mexico.”

A fund drive continues in an effort to help the family with large medical bills piled up from before the child qualified for insurance coverage. Donations are being accepted by all Central Bank locations.

Scores of Storm Lakers have followed Monserrat’s story in the Pilot-Tribune or on the family’s Facebook page, “Prayers for Monserrat.” The family has been amazed by the support, Vrieze says.

“We want to let everyone know who have helped out or prayer for Monse that we are grateful. Prayers really do help.”

via Storm Lake Pilot Tribune: Community News: Local child gets liver transplant just in time (02/20/13).

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