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Meet Olivia, 2020 Colorado CMN Champion

Olivia at 7 months old, immediately after liver transplant

“We have a liver for Olivia.”

When Olivia was first born, her skin turned yellow, and she had elevated levels of bilirubin, the orangish-yellow substance created when blood is broken down by the body. She had the telltale symptoms of jaundice, a common condition in newborns that usually disappears in a few days.

But after several days of higher-than-normal bilirubin levels, the family was referred to Children’s Hospital Colorado for further testing. At 8 weeks old, when Olivia’s bilirubin levels kept rising, doctors decided they needed to perform a biopsy of her liver. She was initially diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a life-threatening liver condition.

Later, when their surgeon performed a procedure intended to correct her malfunctioning organ, he discovered Olivia had no bile ducts at all, an even more serious liver condition known as Biliary Agenesis.

Olivia on her 4th anniversary of her transplant

Doctors sat new parents Megan and Charles down and gently explained that Olivia’s only option would be a liver transplant, or she would not live to see her first birthday. Olivia’s condition was precarious, but doctors recommended holding off on a transplant until she was a bit older to give her the best chance of survival. It was a difficult time for Megan and Charles, waiting for their precious daughter to grow a bit bigger for the surgery that lay ahead, knowing that she was getting sicker with each day that passed.

By the time Olivia was big enough to handle the risks of surgery, her condition was so dire that she spent just nine days on the liver transplant list before the family got the fateful call for which they had been desperately waiting.

Olivia officially awarded the 2020 CMN Champion medal at a January RE/MAX event

Then serendipitously, just after the first day of spring – a time of new beginnings – Olivia received her liver.

She weighed only 10 pounds when she underwent transplant surgery, one of the smallest patients ever to receive a liver transplant at Children’s Colorado. The transplant surgery was a resounding success, thanks to the world-class care Olivia received from Dr. Frederick Suchy and Dr. Shikha Sundaram, both experts in pediatric liver disease, and her transplant surgeon, Dr. Michael Wachs.

Olivia was only in the hospital for 13 days after her transplant. “She recovered really well,” says Charles. “The morning after her liver transplant, her skin and her eyes weren’t yellow anymore. It was night and day. All the yellow was gone.”

Olivia with her 2020 CMN Champion medal

Now 5 years old, she loves to hike, ride her bike, and practice speaking French with her parents and grandparents. She draws constantly, loves to camp and has a vivid imagination. In May 2020, she will celebrate the five-year anniversary of her lifesaving operation. Olivia says the scar on her stomach looks like a rainbow. It’s a fitting mark for a little girl who wants to be a unicorn when she grows up.

“I am so incredibly grateful for our doctors and the whole transplant team,” Megan says. “I’m thankful for being a part of the Children’s Colorado family and for Olivia’s blessed outcome and her contagious smile.”

From left to right: Megan, Olivia, Charles, and Milo; on a hike in the Rocky Mountains

Olivia, along with brother Milo and parents Megan and Charles, will be seen throughout Children’s Miracle Network events representing Children’s Hospital Colorado in Colorado and Wyoming in 2020.