A Four-Year-Old Girl Resumes Her Active Life with Cousin’s Liver

Katherine Franco wanted to make a real difference in the lives of others by becoming a social worker. An opportunity to do so on a personal level came when her cousin needed a liver to survive.

Madison Blumenthal was a typical preschooler – picking up common illnesses during her childhood but otherwise healthy.  However, one Monday morning when her babysitter picked her up from preschool, Madison’s teacher commented that Madison had been sleeping an unusual amount during the day. For the next two days her lethargy continued until her mother Michelle Rodriquez insisted that she take a shower. Out of pure exhaustion, Madison urinated in the shower and her mom saw that her urine was the color of rust.

At the doctor’s office that afternoon, Madison’s examination was unremarkable. Just when the doctor stepped out of the office, Madison’s eyes shifted as she looked peripherally at a cartoon on the wall. That was what mom described as her “oh, no” moment, as she saw the yellowing in the corners of her daughter’s eyes. She called the doctor back in and from there things moved incredibly fast.

Madison was admitted to the hospital and tests began. By the next morning, she was going into liver failure and was transferred to the intensive care unit. Her mother was told that Madison needed a liver transplant and that she had acute hepatitis and liver disease. Although her mom immediately volunteered to donate a portion of her liver, she did not qualify as a donor. Madison was listed on the organ transplant waiting list. The hope was that her condition would stabilize in time for a liver donor to be found.

Within a few days, her condition had rapidly worsened.  Friends and family started calling and coming in to be screened as potential donors. Miraculously, of the five relatives visiting one day, three were a match. Based on her overall health, one cousin, Katherine Franco, was chosen to be the donor. Mom reassured her cousin that she didn’t have to do this. But Katherine insisted that she wanted to make this difference.