Seacoast Online | Jennifer Feals
Christina Butler gives her five month old daughter, Zoé, a kiss, as she explains the need for her to have a liver transplant. Deb Cram photo
KENNEBUNK — More than happiness can shine through a smile. It can also reveal strength, hope, and perseverance, as can be seen in the smile of 6-month-old Zoé Paul.
Born with biliary atresia at 35 weeks, the Kennebunk baby is in need of a liver transplant. This condition of the liver causes significant injury to the organ as the common bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is blocked or absent. In her first 21 days of life, Zoé faced visits to doctors' offices and hospitals, and test after test, until her diagnosis.
Yet, with her bright smile rarely leaving her face, Zoé's yellowed skin and eyes are the only evidence of the battle she's enduring.
"Her eyes speak volumes," said her mom, Christina Butler. "It's different for me every day. Sometimes it gets to me more than others. She smiles, so it's easy to look at her as a healthy baby but when I remember she's not, it scares me. It's hard to be the mom of a sick baby."
While biliary atresia is the leading cause of liver transplantation in children, Butler and her fiancé Selwyn Paul say many people have not heard of the condition. They are sharing their daughter's story in the hopes of raising awareness of biliary atresia and what a child diagnosed with the condition goes through.