Baby with rare disease survives COVID-19 and liver transplant before his 1st birthday

Kasen Donerlson is being called a miracle baby.

1/18/2021 1:16:00 PM

He's being called a 'miracle baby' after surviving both COVID-19 and a liver transplant, all before his first birthday.

Kasen Donerlson is being called a miracle baby.

Kasen of Syracuse, New York, was born on Jan. 14, 2020, weighing a healthy eight pounds, according to Donerlson. He spent a few days in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) due to breathing issues and jaundice that Donerlson said doctors told her would improve as he got older.

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When Kasen's health did not improve, Donerlson said she sought further evaluations for her son. Around two months after his birth, the infant was diagnosed with a severe case of biliary atresia, a condition in which bile ducts in and around the liver are scarred and blocked,

(NIDDK).Courtesy Mitayah DonerlsonKasen Donerlson, of Syracuse, N.Y., survived both COVID-19 and a liver transplant before his first birthday.Just a few days after his diagnosis, Kasen underwent an emergency surgery to repair his bile ducts. But the surgery proved unsuccessful, according to Donerlson, who soon learned that her son would need a liver transplant.

"We had endless hospital visits and we would be there for five or seven or 10 days because of the severity of the disease and the complications that Kasen was having," said Donerlson, adding that Kasen had to be placed on a feeding tube."He would have fevers that wouldn’t come down."

MORE: Mom who gave birth while intubated due to COVID-19 made her ICU nurse the godmotherDonerlson, who also cares for her 4-year-old son and 5-year-old niece, was able to get Kasen onto the transplant waiting list at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, about a five-hour drive from the family's Syracuse home.

In November, as Kasen was waiting for a liver to become available, Donerlson said she, her significant other, her niece and Kasen all tested positive for COVID-19."On Nov. 21 he woke up that morning and was extremely hot. His body was like touching a stove," said Donerlson."I just cried because I knew the hospital was going to admit us, but I didn’t know they were going to tell us that he was COVID-positive."

Courtesy Mitayah DonerlsonKasen Donerlson, of Syracuse, N.Y., survived both COVID-19 and a liver transplant before his first birthday.Kasen spent around three days in the hospital but his only complication was a fever, according to Donerlson, who, along with her family members, did not suffer any complications from COVID-19.

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MORE: How one mother fought to change an organ transplant policy to save her daughter's lifeJust two weeks later, in early December, Donerlson got the call she had been waiting months for -- that a liver was available for Kasen."All I could do was cry. They were mommy tears and tears of joy. I was just so happy," said Donerlson."I always knew he was going to get a transplant -- that was my faith -- but to finally get that call and get that message that the surgery was scheduled and to have that relief from the burden on my shoulders dropped, it felt so good."

She added:"I’m smiling from ear to ear right now because I can literally see that moment and feel that moment again."When Kasen underwent the transplant in early January, he weighed only about 10 pounds more than his birth weight, according to

Dr. George Mazariegos, chief of Pediatric Transplantation at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh."He was more the weight of a 3-month-old and that is all because of the severity of his condition," said Mazariegos, who added that Kasen received part of a liver from a young adult who died."We were able to use the left portion of the liver which was the perfect size for a baby of Kasen’s size."

Donerlson said she noticed an immediate difference in Kasen after the nearly 10-hour transplant procedure.Courtesy Mitayah DonerlsonKasen Donerlson, of Syracuse, N.Y., survived both COVID-19 and a liver transplant before his first birthday."His eyes have always been greenish and yellowish, his entire life, and he woke up from surgery with clear eyes," she said."I was overjoyed by seeing that."

After spending much of his first life sick and hospitalized, Kasen is expected to have a long, normal and healthy life with his new liver, according to Maraziegos.He celebrated his first birthday in the hospital on Jan. 14 and is already gaining weight. He was described by Donerlson as more alert and"perkier" post-transplant.

"What I’m looking forward to is Kasen walking and talking," said Donerlson."I’m so excited for him to get those skills and for my family to bond back together as we were before all the ups and downs and the hospital visits."She said she is also grateful to the donor whose liver Kasen received, and to all people who volunteer to donate their organs, both living and deceased.

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God Bless You! Great kid This is USA, not Middle East. Makes my heart swell!❤️ (insert Heart warming and inspirational comments here) For references who want to find additional income or money from the internet. I hope it's useful and good luck everyone. Born to be alive Gods bless this little guy❤️ god saves the baby

Oh my gosh! Kasen is so cute, and strong! Blessings and wishes for better days for this sweet baby and his parents. ♥️ 💙 Yeah. Great story. Doctor, nurses, techs entire hospital deserves to be rewarded with brand new Corvettes. 🙏 God bless this child & his family🙏🙏 God bless him. Great ✊🏿💪🏿👍 Bless his heart ❤️ ❤️❤️❤️

God Bless baby Kasen 💛 🙏🏼 🙏 Him crying. Take care of him. We are not promised long lives. So sweet. Blessings everyone. That sweet baby - may he have a happy life filled with love 💖 littlewarrior In those eyes i see Hope, Love and an unbelievable power What a cutie! What a fighter! God has plan for this baby.🙏🏾

Thanks God 4 this miracle!!! Kasen you are blessed and will have a long long life my cutie !!!! All the best for you and your dad and your mom and family. ❤❤❤❤❤ He is a truly beautiful, happy looking baby. Awe, he's precious 💖 El COVID 19 no viene de CHINA ni la CEPA del Reino Unido... Todo viene de Arriba. DÍOS quiere que todos estemos GUARDADOS EN CASA durante 40 dias y 40 noches, como lo hizo JESÚS su hijo en el desierto.

So freaking cute Omg sweet baby God bless him!!! I hope he has no more hardships to face after this....and his parents god bless them too that must have been horrifying from them A precious beautiful baby, a blessing indeed. 🙏🏼 🙏💙🙏 Brilliant A tiny body fights the odds and survives,just amazing. God give that beautiful baby life all over again!! Blessed be the family.....

Thank you God Prayers Covid must not be that big of a threat. Well yeah.... children have a 99.999999% survival rate so not surprising. Happy Birthday sweet baby. Thank God 🙏 Science is amazing. Contrast with: “We need to get the schools open,” Deese claimed, “so that parents, and particularly women, who are being disproportionately hurt in this economy, can get back to work.”

OMG Bless him and his little body🤗❤ Go on you good thing! GOD's precious gift !!! 💕🙏 Hope he enjoys a very healthy, strong, and productive life with no more obstacles. He’s already going to be a fighter. pmackari_ There are good news once in a while. The EU China continues its global social-communist agenda. Now that Biden and the Democrats are coming, the plan is close to succeeding. I think the big media and Big Tech will soon get a bitter surprise when everything is pulled in under the global state.

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Omg poor baby I cannot believe how bad the world has become for everyone in such a short amount of time 😢 Glory be to God 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 What a beautiful story of resilience!! ❤️ More sad than heart warming 💔 Superboy!!! 🙌👍 Holy what a fighter ❤️💪 That's awesome good for him What a fighter! ♥️ God bless you sweet baby

All babies survive COVID Bless him! May he have many more much Happier Birthdays! this is terrible news