Sarah and Chris St. James were ecstatic when they discovered that Sarah was pregnant with their second child, a little girl.
And just like all parents, they were overjoyed when their daughter came into the world with no complications.
It wasn’t until they took her home that they realized something was wrong.
Their daughter Sloan was born fit and healthy, but when she was two months old her parents noticed that she was becoming a little chubby, especially around her belly.
Their baby ate normally and was developing the way she should.
But when her “Buddha-belly” continued to grow bigger and bigger, Sarah and Chris became more and more worried.
Instead of taking Sloan to the family’s regular pediatrition, Sarah and Chris took her to the hospital for a four month check up.
Unfortunately, the doctor made a sad discovery, and gave the couple some news that no parent wants to hear.
Most parents would probably be devastated by the bad news, and maybe even try to find a way to accept it – but this couple didn’t want to give up without a fight.
When Chris and Sarah took Sloan to Boston’s Childrens’ Hospital, they were overcome with worry.
They realized that their daughter’s belly wasn’t growing in a normal way, but at the same time they hoped the doctor would give them a reassuring diagnosis.
But instead, their daughter was diagnosed with a rare liver disease called biliary atresia, which blocks and damages bile ducts. The bile builds up in the liver, which eventually breaks under the pressure if the disease is left untreated.
Sloan’s short life had hit a huge hurdle. Sarah tells newspaper Sentinel Source:
“Here we are thinking we’re bringing her in for peace of mind, and instead it was devastating. Everything we dreaded came true.”
Sloan returned home from the hospital, but she quickly had to return. Just 1 week after the first diagnosis, the family returned to the hospital’s intensive care unit.
The only thing that could save the little girl’s life was a liver transplant, and she didn’t have much time.
Neither Sarah or Chris matched their daughter’s blood group, O, so they told their story to everyone they could, hoping to find a donor.
The rules surrounding living donors and transplants are very strict. The donor has to be a friend or family member, and they must be willing to donate, for free.
The donor also has to go through a psychiatric evaluation, and of course they have to be physically healthy.
The family’s close friend, Jake Tenney, saw the family’s plea for help on social media and shared their story on Facebook.
That’s when an unexpected hero stepped forward. The stranger was a perfect match in more than one way, since he was used to saving lives.
It was Jake’s brother, Steve Tenney, who came to the rescue. Steve is an American Army veteran and has been a police officer in New Hampshire for 18 years.
He is 40 years old and in good shape. He hadn’t needed to visit a doctor in over a decade and had never spent a night in the hospital – until now.
After Steve passed a series of tests, the doctors immediately removed a piece of his liver. They took around 20 percent of the organ before placing it back in Steve’s body. At that point, Steve hadn’t even met little Sloan, whose life he was about to save.
“Fortunately, here, I was in a good position. My wife and I talked and it was really a no-brainer — if you can help a 4-month-old and potentially save her life, it’s something you’re going to do,” Steve says.
Thankfully, both surgeries were a success.The liver is one of the only organs in the body that can heal itself, so Steve’s liver will recover.
And as Sloan grows up, her new liver will grow strong.
Although a part of her was taken away, the little girl received something much better in its place. Not everyone can say that they carry a piece of their hero with them wherever they go!
This is the most beautiful story I’ve heard in a long time. Sloan’s life could have been snuffed out after only a few short months, but thanks to Steve’s selfless gesture, the story has a happy ending!
Please share this story if you want to thank Steve for his heroic action! He really deserves to be recognized.