Michayla’s visits to Vandy started when she was diagnosed with liver cancer at 6 months old. Now, although a year of chemo treatments stopped the cancer, she needs a new liver.
Actually, about 70 percent of Michayla’s liver had to be surgically removed Rachel said, but doctors thought the remaining 30 percent would rejuvenate. They told her family that’s what usually happens, but in Michayla’s case her liver developed cirrhosis instead.
After the treatments for the cancer were complete, Rachel said, Michayla was pretty stable earlier this year. Then she started having varices bleeds caused by her damaged liver. The bleeds happen when veins in her throat rupture and cause her to vomit blood.
But her mother added, “God has truly blessed us with her. She can be at Vandy with tubes coming out everywhere in Thursday and on Monday she’s back in school like nothing happened.”
Her teacher, Vicki Shelton, agrees, saying she’s glad to be able to help the family because Michayla is so brave and sweet.
A bad bleed last September meant Michayla had to be taken to Vandy by LifeFlight helicopter. The incident led to her being moved to near the top of the list for a transplant.
And since the procedure costs about $500,000 and not all of that is covered by insurance, the family was referred to Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA). The organization helps families raise the money needed to pay expenses not covered by insurance. The money remains in an account for the patient until it’s needed for any transplant related expenses.
“Transplant patients have to deal with rejection problems the rest of their lives,” Rachel said. “COTA means if she has a rejection at 45 and needs the money, it will still be there.”
Doctors at Vandy said about two weeks ago that Michayla would probably get a new liver within a month, so her family is planning on rushing her back to Vandy any day.
They see that as fortunate, too, since up until about a year ago the nearest hospital that did liver transplants was in Philadelphia. Now, however, there is a doctor at Vandy who does the surgery.
When Michayla moved up the list, her classmates and teacher decided it was time to help.
Shelton said she told the principal about Michayla’s problems, and he agreed the school should help.
So T-shirts which say “Michayla’s Rays of Hope” and feature a bright sun face, were designed and the students and teachers started selling them. So far they have raised $7,000 to help Michayla and her family.
Southside also is going to have a special Michayla’s Rays of Hope fun day at the school Friday. School officials plan to present a check to her family during an assembly Friday morning.
Anyone wishing to help can attend the fun day.
One of Michayla’s favorite games to play with her mom is a “pinky-promise.” They link pinky fingers and promise, “to have lunch together, to tell the real, actual truth,” or sometimes that, “This won’t hurt.”
Anyone who would like to make a “pinky promise” to help this brave little girl can make a donation through Bank of America to an account called COTA for Michayla Nelson’s Rays of Hope fun day at the school Friday.
For more information about Michayla or to follow her progress with the transplant process, go to cotaformichaylan.com.