Hadley at the zoo. Hadley at the zoo.

Hadley transplant was a year ago

As my two-year-old granddaughter Hadley Sass grows, so to will the small portion of her father's liver donated for her transplant.

March 31 marked one year since Hadley was admitted to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis with a large tumor on her liver that would later be diagnosed as cancer.

Hadley's cancer was extremely rare with only 50 other documented cases in the world. Because of the rarity, her parents Joe and Hillary Sass of Eagan, had no idea what her prognosis was or what her long-term treatment plan would look like.

The tumor centered over a major blood vessel on the liver, making the removal dangerous and difficult. Initially, doctors hoped chemotherapy would shrink the tumor enough to remove it.

When that didn't work, there was no other alternative but a liver transplant. Upon heaing the news and because Hadley's mother was pregnant with the couple's third child, Hadley's father immediately volunteered to be the donor. Tests that were conducted showed him to be a perfect match.

The delicate liver transplant was performed in mid-September at the Children's Hospital in Chicago.

A recent six-month post-op checkup showed no signs of Hadley rejecting her new liver, nor any signs of the cancer.

“After eight rounds of chemotherapy, five surgeries, more medicines than we could possibly count, and a shiny new liver from her daddy, Hadley is living the life or a normal two-year-old,” said her mother. “She fought through so much and she is truly the bravest person I know.

“We are so thankful for all the wonderful doctors, nurses, surgeons, therapists, social workers and child life specialists who helped us get to this point. We are also thankful for everyone supporting us through this long year.
 
“ Living with a transplanted organ will always bring extra challenges for Hadley, but we are confident that she is through the worst of this and all of this will be a distant memory for her one day.”
 
Recently, I tagged along with Hadley and her family which includes older brother Easton and younger sister Delaney, to the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley. Hadley refused to ride in a stroller despite the lengthy walk; instead twirling, running and singing down all the trails throughout the day.
 
It certainly brought a smile to my face. And a tear to my eye.

Hadley's one year celebration.

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