Fifteen-month-old Mya Saysanam stood for the first time a few weeks ago. I know because I saw it happen while I was interviewing her family.
Although I wouldn’t usually pay much attention to the first stand of any child who wasn’t my own, this instance struck me as particularly momentous.
Liver experts at Children’s diagnosed Mya with acute liver failure when she was 4 months old. The diagnosis shocked her parents.
In the span of a couple of days, they went from thinking she was completely healthy to not knowing if she would live to see her first birthday, much less stand on her own.
“I went numb when I found out,” Mya’s father, Sye Saysanam, said.
Children’s was the best place to come
There is nothing good about that news for any parent, but if there was any bright spot to be found, it was that Mya came to Children’s. As the only pediatric liver transplant facility in North Texas, Children’s was the only place near Mya’s home in Fort Worth that had the staff with the expertise to treat her condition.
And her condition deteriorated quickly. Just a few weeks after her diagnosis, her liver lost the capacity to function on its own. She had to be admitted to Children’s until she could get a transplant, and no one knew for sure when that would be – a month, a year or even longer.
“They gave us a pager to alert us when she received a new organ,” Sye said. “I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.”
“We just prayed and prayed and prayed,” her mother, Krista Ketnourath, said.
Brief wait leads to permanent memories
The wait fortunately was short. A perfectly sized liver for Mya became available only two weeks after her admission. Drs. Dev Desai and Meelie Debroy took her in for surgery at midnight.
After staying up all night, Mya’s parents saw their daughter emerge from surgery at 8 a.m. It was the first time they had ever seen her with a healthy liver.
“I’ll always remember the first time she opened her eyes in ICU and they weren’t yellow anymore,” said Krista. “I always thought she was a beautiful child, but after that, I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh, she really is beautiful.’”
And Krista said she will also never forget seeing Mya stand for the first time and what that symbolized.
“Now she has a new life,” she said. “Now she’s going to grow up.”