North Huntingdon girl marks 10th anniversary of lifesaving liver transplant
Guests donned long necklaces, feathered masks and glittery tiaras in an Elizabeth restaurant on Sunday to celebrate not just Mardi Gras but also 10-year-old Adelynn Rosner.
Adee, as she is known, marked the 10th anniversary of her liver transplant with a party in Rockwell's Red Lion Restaurant with about 60 relatives, friends and a doctor from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh who helped save her.
“I would say thank you because without them, I would be gone, and I want to thank my donor,” said Adee, resplendent in a black skirt with sparkling stripes, a blue top, pink vest and golden, beaded earrings with pink feathers.
Jaundiced shortly after birth, she was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a potentially fatal disease in which the bile ducts do not develop normally and cannot properly remove waste from the liver. The condition occurs about once in every 18,000 live births, said Dr. Rakesh Sindhi, director of pediatric research at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Doctors tried a drainage procedure. When that did not work, they recommended a liver transplant. On Feb. 11, 2003, when she was 9 months old, Adee received the liver of a child who had died at birth.
“I couldn't get my mind around it. I was in denial,” said her father, Anthony L. Rosner, 49, a lawyer from North Huntingdon. Her mother, Reneé, 46, a homemaker, said she felt “fear, complete fear.”
Adee has no memory of the six-hour transplant operation, except for the four pills a day she takes and the upside-down Y on her chest that her former doctor calls her “Mercedes scar.”
“I can remember having stomach pains, but not ‘oh, my God' stomach pains,” she said.
Sindhi, one of her doctors, said about 500 children in the United States get a liver transplant each year. Children's Hospital performs about 30 a year. He said about 90 percent of such patients are still alive 10 to 20 years after the operation.
Thom Swenson, literacy and social studies teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in Norwin School District, attended the party in honor of his student. He said the transplant might have given Adee an extra appreciation for life.
“She has a love and compassion and understanding that most kids her age don't have — to make sure each kid is included in the group and is taken care of and has a smile on her face,” Swenson said.
The Rosners have thrown a party each year after the transplant.
“It's a big event for her,” her mother said. “It's the day she was saved.”
Adee's sister Alissity, 12, made a photo montage for her at the entrance of the restaurant. It contained pictures of Adee and her family, including 5-year-old brother Anthony M., her pet rabbit, Joker, and her junior dragster, Bad Adee-tude, which she drives at Pittsburgh Raceway Park in New Alexandria. The exhibit displayed photos of her frequent work on behalf of Children's Hospital and the Central Blood Bank.
Sindhi, who attended the party with his daughter Elizabeth, found the event refreshing for a transplant surgeon.
“For any physician involved in something like this, the life-threatening illness that the child comes with and the very complicated surgery that they go through is such a contrast to how well they look in this normal setting,” he said. “It is a source of extreme gratification.”
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Contact him at 412-320-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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