Shrewsbury mother donates liver to middle school daughter

Community Advocate | Sue Wambolt

Dawn and Lydia Cavanaugh (Photo/submitted)

Shrewsbury – Oak Middle School seventh-grader Lydia Cavanaugh was born with Biliary Atresia (BA), a rare, life threatening liver disease. Over the past 12 years, she has suffered numerous liver infections and developed complications associated with liver disease which further deteriorated her liver and her health. A year ago, on Sept. 26, Lydia was placed on the liver transplant list at Children’s Hospital; 10 months later she underwent surgery to receive one. The donor was her mother, Dawn.

Initially, donating her liver to her daughter was not an option for Dawn, 49, as the cut off age for living donors at Lahey Hospital (Children’s Hospital affiliate) was 45. After much success with slightly older donors, the hospital recently increased the donor age to 55, opening the door for Dawn.

After the initial blood testing proved that mother and daughter were a match, a team of nurse practitioners, living donor coordinators, surgeons, a dietician, pharmacist, finance specialist, psychiatrist, social worker, gastroenterologist, cardiologist and more walked Dawn through the donor process and prepared her physically and mentally for organ donation surgery.

"The team wanted to be sure that not only was I a match for Lydia, but that I was healthy enough to donate and withstand the surgery. They also wanted to be sure that I was mentally able to donate," said Dawn. "They asked me if I was expecting anything in return for donating my liver and I responded, ‘Yes, I expect Lydia to live a long, healthy, happy life.’" Continue reading