7 days of gratitude – day 6

Day 6 goes to a VERY VERY special person….Dr Kathleen Campbell.

I can’t even type this without tearing up.  

Dr Campbell is THE SINGLE REASON Bea has made it to the 1 year mark.  She would totally debate me on that or try not to take ANY credit but as her mom and the person who gave a piece of her liver to Bea,….

I am saying that Dr Campbell did more for Bea than anyone.

We first met Dr Campbell when we did Bea’s biopsy the first week we were admitted.  We had an idea of what might be going on but the next step in figuring it out was to put Bea under for 20 minutes and have her liver biopsied.  When we wheeled Bea back to be put under I just remember SOBBING and freaking out about her going under anesthesia.  Little did I know that a 20 minute nap wasn’t that scary 🙂

When they were finished with the biopsy, they had us meet Dr Campbell in a room to discuss what she saw.  We went into this tiny room right outside the recovery area and she introduced herself and showed us this container with clear fluid and a tiny floating piece of Bea’s liver.  She asked us what color it was, we said dark green, and she explained how a normal liver is supposed to be pink.  A moment that will forever be seared into my brain.

Since that moment, Dr Campbell has been right by our side leading us through the diagnosis and the recovery.  When initially talking about living donation, Dr Campbell was our advocate and guided us through the process.  She was our sounding board, our cheerleader and most importantly – she was THE person that kept Bea healthy up until transplant.

What is so tricky about transplanting is that typically these kids are very ill going into their surgery so the lead up is hard and the recovery can be long and more difficult.  Dr Campbell and her team assisted us every step of the way and kept telling us that “nutrition dictates everything”.  The bigger we could get her before surgery, the better off she would be.  And they were right.  I kept repeating that phrase to myself when I would go into her room to feed her multiple times throughout the night.  And I know Jordan did the same.

 Right before surgery she was coined as “the biggest biliary atresia baby we’ve seen” and I can without a doubt say that is one of my most proud mom moments.

Since surgery we’ve had some ups and downs.  I have too many stories I could tell of me crying to Dr Campbell about being worried, frustrated, or just confused and she would always be my sounding board.   One of her best talents is that she makes you feel like she is a part of your family and that she cares for us the same way she would if she was my sister and Bea’s aunt.

More recently, I had a very serious conversation with her about expanding our family and not being sure if it was the right thing to do by Bea.  She kept reiterating that it would be grest for Bea to start her life as a normal kid.

“Treat her like you would any other child”

“It’ll take the pressure and the focus off of her…in a good way”

“A sibling would be a good thing for the queen.’

She was right.  We ALL needed to move on and continue living our lives like we normally would.  I always wanted my kids to be close in age and this hurdle wasn’t going to change our plan.  Knowing I had her support in our decision gave us confidence and put us at ease.

Even now, I can start to tell that Dr Campbell is confident in Bea’s health.  When Bea battled hand, foot, and mouth and the croup cough I was WAITING for Dr Campbell to tell us to come in for blood work or to stop in to see her.  It would have made me feel better – she is our comfort zone and after having her see Bea, I ALWAYS feel better. 

But, no.  She directed us to our pediatrician (who is also great) in an attempt to, what I believe, get us on a “normal kid” path.  HFM and Croup are “normal kid” things and we should handle them as such.  She has been our crutch but she’s slowly trying to ween us.

Although it is a good thing we don’t see her as often (because medically it means Bea is doing well), I have to say it makes me sad.  She is my GO TO on everything.  She is my Friday ritual.  She is the answer to all of our problems and questions.

But I am realizing that the less we see her, the more someone else’s child gets to feel her comfort, receive her medical expertise, and see her smiling face.  I am happy for them and they are SO LUCKY they have such a special person leading their team to health.

SO – Dr Campbell.  I don’t even know if you read this silly ‘ol blog but if you do…

We love you.  We thank you.  And we feel so grateful to have you in our lives.


Hillary, Jordan, and the Queen

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