1010 WINS-On the morning of September 8th, Lt. Steven Tenney of the Keene, NH Police Department laid in his hospital bed pondering his decision to donate part of his liver to a newborn child he had never met — a decision he made without hesitation.
Now over two months after surgery he and little Sloan St. James, who was diagnosed with biliary atresia at Boston’s Children’s Hospital just a few months after being born, have finally met for the very first time.
Lt. Tenney became aware of Sloan’s situation after his brother began seeing posts on Facebook describing a classmate’s four-month-old daughter who had been diagnosed with stage four liver failure and needed a life-saving transplant.
“If you can help a 4-month-old baby, you kind of have to do it,” Tenney told Boston 25 News.
So, Tenney signed up to be tested to see if he was a suitable donor and was thrilled to find out he was a match for Sloane, who now has approximately 19 percent of his liver.
“We were so, so thankful, but nervous at the same time,” Sloan’s mother, Sarah tells 1010 WINS.
“Sloan was very sick, so we knew this is what she needed. We had prayed and prayed for her to get a liver, but at the same time wishing and praying to send your baby into a such a large surgery is very scary. To hear we had a match was amazing and we felt so grateful. I know that the first thing [Tenney] said when he got out of his surgery and anesthesia was ‘How is Sloan?’
After meeting exactly two weeks post-operation, Sarah says Tenney was so thankful that Sloan was now healthy and looking so much better. “You would never know what he’d been through so soon after surgery. He’s a strong, brave man. I’d like to think he was proud, too.”
Sarah now hopes that by sharing her family’s story, people will be encouraged to become organ donors.
“There is a misconception about organ donation, that you’ll end up in a test lab as an experiment, you won’t be actually “dead” at the time of harvest, etc.,” Sarah admits. “That is so far from the truth. Only ~ 55% of U.S. adults are registered organ donors and we need to see that number rise. Lives can be saved. Additionally, many people are not informed about living organ donation. We are fortunate to live in an area of the country where split liver transplants are a possibility and I’d like to see this option more available for babies, young children, and more adults to be saved. I also hope parents will learn to act on their gut feelings and not ignore any concerns they have for their children, despite what their doctors might say. Sloan was diagnosed because my husband and I had concerns about her persistent jaundice and increasing abdominal swelling, not because a doctor picked up on it. As parents, we are our children’s best advocates.”