Baby bounces back from liver disease

January 13, 2008 6:10:50 AM PST
Two grateful parents are watching their toddler bounce back from a devastating illness.Action News first met one-year-old Savannah Anselmo just before Christmas. She was born with biliary atresia, which meant the bile duct between her liver and small intestine didn't work. Her liver was failing and she needed a transplant.

"Her labs are not good; she's dying," Ana Anselmo, Savannah's mother, said back in December.

The Anselmos were staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Camden, far from their Florida home, to be close to the transplant team at Children's Hospital. Their sacrifice paid off.

At 1:00 in the morning on December 29, they received a phone call saying a possible donor had been found. Within five hours, Savannah was in surgery.

"I think the hardest thing I ever did in my life was to actually give her to the OR nurse," Ana said.

Six hours later, Savannah was recovering in pediatric intensive care. The surgery had gone extremely well. Her parents began to see improvement right away.

"She has a ton more energy. Her color changed almost immediately. We kept thinking she was too pale because she wasn't yellow anymore," Savannah's father said.

The Anselmo's thank the Ronald McDonald House, the medical team at CHOP, and the friends and family who've been praying for them. Most of all, though, their thoughts are with the family of the two-year-old who died, and whose liver gave Savannah the promise of a new life.

"She wouldn't be here if it weren't for them and I can't imagine what they had to go through in order to make the decision, but they made the right one, and we'll always honor it," Ana said.

Savannah is doing so well, in fact, that she may be able to go back home to Florida in three weeks. She will come back to this area for checkup and visits at the Ronald McDonald House.