Louisville girl survives liver disease and turns into inspiration


by Bryan Baker


Posted on September 22, 2012 at 12:01 AM

Updated Saturday, Sep 22 at 2:38 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- When you're a kid everything seems like a matter of life and death. To 11-year-old Anna Parish it is.
"Sometimes I would get short of breath when I'm running with my class and stuff, or I'd get really hot and feel like I'm gonna pass out."
Anna was diagnosed with a rare disease called Biliary Atresia at five weeks old. A virus attacked her liver and it was failing, also causing heart and lung problems. Her nights were sleepless.
"I would wake up every night and itch all the time, and the next morning, be like, I don't want to go to school," she remembers.
Anna's doctor gave the family the grim news: the only hope for a cure was a liver transplant.
"[The doctor would] always say live for today, because you just have no clue when this disease is gonna take its turn, and then she's gonna be sick," Anna's mother Cheryl said.
Last May the phone call came after three years on the organ transplant list. Anna was eating lunch at Dunn Elementary in Louisville when she heard.
"My grandmother walks in, and she's just crying, and I was like what just happened?" remembers Anna.
The family rushed to Cincinnati Children's Hospital where they prepared for surgery.
"We were crying and so beside ourselves worried, and she kept looking at us saying, don't worry, I'm gonna be fine!" Cheryl remembered of the surgery.
Anna said, "They just had to worry, and I just had to sleep! I did the easy part. They did the hard part!"
Six hours of surgery later and Anna had a new liver. She's already raised thousands of dollars to give kids like her the same chance.
"I just don't want other kids to go through that and get sick, because that would just be hard," Anna said.
Her family has a reason to smile again.
"She's now going to be able to have a happy, healthy life, indefinitely, and before that might not have been a possibility," Cheryl said.
You can see Anna on Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Legacy of Life 5K run/walk. Anna will be the official starter of the race. It's put on by University Hospital and the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA).
You can sign up with the organ donor registry by going to www.kyorgandonor.org where you can register in Kentucky and Indiana.