News and Observer
December 24, 2015
Baby’s transplant helps bring two strong mothers together
Baby Elijah is now doing well, doctors say
Mothers say this Christmas is one they’ll cherish
DURHAM Sarah Ames lives by the philosophy that if you have the ability to help someone, you have the responsibility to try.Elijah Tsawo, at Duke University Hospital, with liver donor Sarah Ames.Ames was a stranger who donated part of her liver to save Elijah's life.She and Elijah's family have become close since the surgery earlier this year.Photo courtesy of Nicole Fisher
So this spring, when she was moved by a story about a mother’s plea for a liver donor for an infant son, Ames had no qualms about quickly taking a survey to see if she might be a match.
She received a callback the next day.
Two days later she was at Duke University Medical Center for more testing.
And two weeks later she was on an operating table at Duke Children’s Hospital, undergoing her first major surgery so she could give 25 percent of her liver to a stranger.
It was a gift of life for Elijah Tsawo, a 17-month-old boy who brought together two mothers who say the child’s misfortune led to their good fortune of meeting each other for a friendship they hope will last a lifetime.
“I tell her, she tells me, there are no words any more for what this means,” a grateful Gwendolyn Tsawo said earlier this month at a monthly checkup for Elijah.
‘Truly a hero’
Sarah Ames had worked as an acute care speech pathologist. She was familiar with the risks and rewards that modern medicine offers. She also describes herself as a Christian, driven by a strong faith. Her husband Jordan, a Marine, has similar beliefs and values.
The two have adopted six children – three boys and three girls who range in age from 15 to 6 – after finding out Sarah could not give birth to children.
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