SAN ANTONIO — When children need liver transplants, they typically only need a donor to give a small part of their liver as a living donation.
3-year-old Alan Herrera's parents, Joanna Gonzalez and Israel Herrera, said he was a healthy baby boy for his first eight months. Gonzalez said, "Two weeks after he turned eight months it just started to go downhill from there."
Alan's health suddenly took a turn for the worse. They found out he needed a liver transplant. "It was scary. We've never gone through this. We didn't even know people that had gone through it," his mother told us.
"He had a whole life ahead of him that would not be possible if a timely liver organ was not available to take care of his immediate crisis," said Dr. Naveen Mittal, the Director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program within University Health System. He said there is always a need for more donors, both living and deceased. "We do need good community support in terms of organ donation, and also awareness of the community that we have this strong program."
"God heard our prayers and he got his transplant," said Gonzalez. But little Alan's problems were not over. "From his arteries collapsing so much his liver wasn't receiving enough blood, so that's why it starting to go into rejection again."
So Alan is back on the transplant list. "My husband is the same blood type as Alan, but they said his liver has to come from a deceased donor, and it has to be a full liver," his mother told us.
But all along, the family says they've had a lot of people cheering them on. "Our biggest support has been the transplant team, our coordinator, the social worker, the nurses have been a big help," Gonzalez said.
And even though they're needing help from others, Alan's parents are paying it forward, too. "We actually donated blood yesterday because it's not only him, it's millions of other people that need help, and not only organs, but blood as well," Gonzalez said.
If only everyone was so generous, little ones like Alan may not have to wait as long for a life-saving organ.
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