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Allegheny Division Celebrates Liver Awareness Month

>Raises Awareness to Bring Us Closer to a Day Free of Liver Disease!

Pittsburgh, PA-October 29, 2009- Liver disease does not discriminate. It can strike children, adults in their prime family and career building years and the elderly. Often people have little understanding of what functions the liver performs to keep the body healthy or steps to take to achieve liver wellness.

Liver disease struck the Kleebank family a little more than a year and a half ago. Something wasn't right with their seven week old daughter, her color was off. She was rushed to Children's Hospital and underwent an eight hour emergency surgery to save her life.

Amelia Kleebank at seven weeks old was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia which only affects newborns. It is a rare form of liver disease and only occurs in about 1 in 15,000 live births a year. Biliary Atresia affects the bile duct between the liver and the small intestine causing bile to be trapped inside the liver, causing cirrhosis and eventually liver failure. There is no known cause for this disease and the only cure is transplantation.

The procedure that Amelia underwent is called the Kasai procedure, where surgeons attach a section of intestine to the liver to form a "temporary" bile duct so that Amelia's liver could drain.

Between learning how to administer the long list of life-saving medications and dosage times to the fears of fever and Cholangitis, it has been a long road for Amy & Martin Kleebank, but a path that they are honored to take because their child has been given a chance.

They hope that by sharing their daughter's journey they can inspire others to become organ donors and to help raise awareness about the liver and liver health.

Page updated: October 29th, 2009