• One-of-a-kind liver transplant helps cure Pittsburgh girl


    PITTSBURGH - A 3-year-old girl with a rare metabolic disorder is now the first person to be cured thanks to a one-of-a-kind surgery.

    Channel 11’s Jennifer Tomazic introduced you to Kennedy Stevenson and her mother, Donya McCoy, earlier this year when Kennedy was in desperate need of a liver transplant.

    Kennedy has a disease called S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase deficiency, a genetic mutation in which her liver doesn't allow her body to process protein.

    She is only one of six children in the world living with this disease, and on Nov. 11, she was the first of the group to get a liver transplant to give her an opportunity for a better life.

    “It’s part of a journey. So the first steps are really encouraging in that her liver is functioning well,” said Dr. George Mazariegos, one of Kennedy’s surgeons at Children’s Hospital.

    Kennedy’s new liver came from Michael Thompson, McCoy’s high school classmate who answered a plea on Facebook.

    “I think the only way I could ever do what he has done is to teach Kennedy about the gift he gave her and hope that she pays it forward in her life,” McCoy said.

    On Monday, Donya posted a picture of Kennedy on Facebook and let the entire world know that her test results indicate that she has been cured.

    Her post read:

    "Just found out...after metabolic tests have come back, the doctors believe Kennedy's transplant has cured her!!!!! Thank you to Dr. Kevin Strauss for being so brave and thinking out of the box.  As always, Thank you to Michael Thompson for being so selfless. Kennedy is so happy without her chest tube! This Mommy is on one wild ride but it's def the Best.Day.Ever!!!"

    “From the metabolic amino acid standpoint, everything looks as though we may have found the cure this, so it’s pretty touching,” said McCoy.

    McCoy says everyone is looking forward to sharing protein-rich food with Kennedy, like her step-sister, who couldn’t wait to give her a peanut butter cup.

    “It took a lot of bravery on a lot of people's parts to decide to do something like this,” McCoy said. “I think when you take big risks, there can be big rewards.”

    Doctors said they’re very impressed with Kennedy’s progress. She may be released from the hospital next week.

    “It’s amazing. She’s walking just a little bit in the halls. She’s eating protein,” McCoy said.

    All of us at Channel 11 News want to wish Kennedy a big congratulations! If you’d like to leave Kennedy and Donya some well-wishes, you can do so on our official WPXI-TV Facebook page.

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