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Anna – Waiting on Liver Transplant

**UPDATE**  Anna received her transplant in May 2012.  She is DOING GREAT!



Imagine laying in bed at night, trying to scratch an itch that you can’t reach.

That is what Anna Parish deals with. It is part of a liver illness that this charming little girl has lived with for all of her 11 years. Her ammonia levels are high, which causes intense itching from the inside. Despite her best efforts, she cannot really scratch it. It is one of many difficult things she lives with every day.

“She hardly gets any sleep,” said her mother, Cheryl Parish. “I don’t see how she functions.”

Anna’s condition is known as biliary atresia. Sometimes the illness is congenital and can run in the family. Sometimes it comes from nowhere. That is what happened in Anna’s case — she was born healthy but a virus attacked her liver. The Parish family had never heard of the disease, and they were not prepared for this sudden, devastating news.

That is one of the most important aspects of organ donation. You never know when the need will arise, and it can happen to anyone. Imagine your child or grandchild in the same situation, and the fear and anxiety that come with waiting for someone else to say “yes” to organ donation.

Anna was added her to the national waiting list on  April 1, 2009. The family has no way of knowing when or if a call will come, but they’re never farther than five hours from home.

Daily life is a challenge

Anna’s charisma and wit jump out immediately. Inspired by her father, Phillip, who has been taking guitar lessons for a couple years, Anna has also taken up the guitar. Her mom and dad bought her one that is the namesake of her musical hero, Taylor Swift.

Anna starts to giggle and talk faster as she tells the story about meeting her idol when Taylor recently performed at the Yum! Center. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Anna got to go backstage and have some personal time with her hero. She came away with cool photographs and said she felt special. It is something she will never forget.

Her lack of sleep makes school difficult for Anna, and she is often too sick to attend. Her mother said that affects her confidence academically and socially. Anna loves to play sports, but her endurance is low.  But she’s enjoying her precious life just the same.She has lots of friends, and loves to have sleepovers. And she loves to hang out with her parents and her sisters, Gracie and Sarah.

Waiting on a ‘yes’

Every three months, Anna and her family travel to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where she sees a pediatric gastroenterologist. She is primed to travel to New York for her life-saving transplant.

Her family has been told Anna’s wait time could be 18 to 30 months. It is a scary time for all of them. Anna, who just turned 11, will go on the adult list when she turns 12.

“I used to worry when the phone rang,” Cheryl said. “Now I’m more worried it won’t ring. I worry she won’t get one.”

The Parishes have become huge advocates for the cause of organ donation and the Trust For Life, because the need for organs is urgent and crucial. Kids like Anna all over the country are in need of life-saving transplants, and the only hope they have is for everyone to become a registered organ donor.

Saying “yes” at your circuit clerk’s office or joining the registry online states your willingness to help kids like Anna. More registered donors means more hope for those waiting. Everyone counts, and everyone can join the registry today. It only takes five minutes!

A call to action

If you are moved by Anna’s story, please remember — you can DO SOMETHING to make a difference. Be a hero. Be hope. Join today!  Sign up online or at your circuit clerk’s office.

The Parish family are staying strong and dreaming of a bright future for Anna — maybe with the guitar! They dream of her attending college, getting married and having her own family.

“If she could get her transplant and move on with a healthy liver and body, I truly think that the sky is the limit for Anna,” she said. “She could be capable of almost anything if she were given the chance!”

Asked how she would describe organ donation in two words, Cheryl said simply:

“Saving lives.”