She was at school when her eyes turned yellow. The next day she learned she might die

MIAMI HERALD | Kaly Johnson
Mackenzie Hamann hangs out with her cousin, Hayley Illig, in 2015 at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where Hayley stayed for two weeks after being diagnosed with Wilson’s disease.
Kaley Johnson

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Hayley said it was her family who helped her through those two weeks in the hospital, especially her cousin, Mackenzie, who visited her nearly every day, and her mom, who would do her makeup for her.

“She didn’t leave, ever,” Hayley said about her mom. “And Mackenzie was there every day, even on her birthday.”
‘My sister might die’

At first they tried to heal Hayley’s liver with medication. After about a week, however, it was clear the medicine wasn’t working. They put her name on a donor list and waited eight days for a match.

On November 7, with her new liver on the way to the hospital, Hayley was taken into surgery.

“Before she went in, that’s when it dawned on me — my sister might die,” Hannah said.

About 15 family members sat nervously in the waiting room during the surgery, which took about five hours.

Hayley didn’t stay down for long after the procedure, however. In fact, she was up walking only 12 hours after her liver transplant. She said the nurse thought she’d been resting for much longer and told her it was time to take a few steps. Without hesitation, Hayley got up and walked around the hospital room. Continue reading


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