About Emerson White
We received “the first call” Wednesday, June 18, 2008 & Emerson received her first gift of life in the early morning hours of Thursday, June 19. The surgeon removed her large bowel, spleen, and 2/3 of her stomach. She transplanted her small bowel, liver, and pancreas. All organs were from a single donor of similar body size. We are so thankful to the donor family and think of them often through this difficult time. Eme’s journey didn’t end there…rather, it was just beginning. The surgery was the “easy” part, it was the recovery ahead that proved to be very difficult.
Emerson did well initially post-transplant then fell victim to a series of very severe & life-threatening infections. She spent most of the 7 months following transplant in the PICU fighting for her life. She coded, experienced 3 episodes of renal failure, many episodes of lung failure, heart complications, and more. She was on and off dialysis and the vent. Emerson contracted her most serious infection the week of Christmas, 2008. We were told she had only a 50/50 chance of surviving through the week. On December 31, 2008 Eme lost her transplanted bowel. It had died and was removed via emergency surgery on New Year’s Eve.
Emerson was gravely ill and the outlook was grim. She would need another transplant to survive, but was much too sick to even consider it at that point. Our little girl is a fighter, though, and has battled back - proving to everyone she’s not ready to leave us yet!
She was re-listed for multiple organ transplant on April 1, 2009. Exactly 2 weeks later, on April 15 (Daddy’s Birthday), we received “the second call”. At 1am April 16, 2009, Emerson was wheeled into the operating room where she received her second gift of life - a small bowel, liver, pancreas, AND 2 kidneys. She is only the second child at this hospital to re-transplant all organs within the first 12 months. The first child, sadly, did not survive. The risks are high and the months ahead will be difficult. In the first 6 weeks post transplant #2 she’s already been back to the operating room 4 times. She’s been on the vent most of that time & was on dialysis for over a week. Today, though, she is sitting up in her crib watching Tinker Bell & breathing on her own! Emerson is doing well & we remain confident she’ll overcome the many obstacles still ahead.
We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the family and friends who have gathered to raise funds on Emerson’s behalf. We are especially indebted to Amy Howarth, Melanie Oliver, & Cherie Parker for selflessly taking on the challenge of organizing her campaign, and also to Katie Vanis for organizing events here in Omaha. Everyone should be so fortunate to have such amazing friends in their life – we are truly blessed.
We are also forever indebted to the remarkable families who, in their darkest hour, chose organ donation. We can never know the heartache they carry with them every day. We can only thank them for sparing another family that same pain & for giving our daughter a chance to survive. We encourage you to consider organ donation and to discuss it openly with loved ones. It is the greatest gift you can ever give – the gift of life.
In all, thanks to everyone for your continued support - emotionally, spiritually, & financially – together it gives us the strength to face each day and the power to dream for a brighter tomorrow!
With Love, Erika & Jim