BARRIE – Four-and-a-half-year-old Ashley Logan has had a busy month spreading the word about liver transplants.
She opened the Toronto Stock Exchange Monday, Sept. 12, met Tie Domi with friends at the Toronto Zoo Sept. 17 and then spent part of last Sunday at the Hospital for Sick Children talking about her story.
“SickKids is celebrating 25 years of liver transplants,” said Ashley’s mom Sherrie Logan, who is director of a fundraising organization called Ashley’s Angels.
“We were at the TSX Monday as a marketing pitch for the zoo event, and to raise awareness about liver transplants,” said Logan.
But being only four, Ashley was told she was there to “open a big bank,” she said. “It was a very exciting event.”
But daughter Ashley was just looking forward to going to the zoo again.
“We had a huge turnout from families from SickKids Hospital. Our picnic was full and Tie Domi made a special appearance,” said Logan.
“He signed hockey sticks for the families, and hats and spoke to the group of parents as well.”
Despite the cooler temperature that day, Logan said the animals were more active. “They were running around, which isn’t typical in the heat. It was a perfect day to be at the zoo.”
Logan said Ashley’s Angels raised more than $10,000 at the second annual Celebrate LIFE at the Zoo event.
The organization, which was created after Ashley had a liver transplant more than two years ago, has already raised $80,000 from various fundraising events.
One of them is the Ashley’s Angels Motorcycle Ride, which was held in June and supports SickKids Hospital’s liver transplant research.
Now in senior kindergarten, Ashley is doing well, said Logan.
Ashley was only two when she became jaundiced and was diagnosed with a condition called acute liver failure.
Family members were tested to see if they were a match, and her aunt qualified.
In a surgery that took 11 hours, Ashley’s aunt donated a portion of her liver which was transferred to the sick little girl.
“It’s been two-and-a-half years. Her first year she was isolated and needed to be treated because she was immuno-suppressed,” said Logan.
“At that same time she had difficulty with certain foods. It may have been a result of the medication but she’d go into these vomiting spells and she had difficulty breathing.”
She developed allergies to food like chicken and was placed on a bland diet.
“We got past that first year. We’ve re-introduced certain foods and now we’re only off chicken, tomato, almond and avocado.”
And now that the family is moving forward, they were happy to celebrate the 25th anniversary of liver transplants at SickKids.
An education day there Sept. 18 gave the Logan family a chance to talk about Ashley’s story and what lies ahed.
“We talked about some of the risks associated with having had a liver transplant. It’s still a scary place to look ahead. They’ve only been doing this for 25 years and the picture ahead isn’t that clear,” said Logan.
A small percentage of liver transplant patients develop kidney dysfunction five years after the surgery, which can lead to a kidney transplant, said Logan.
“And the 10 to 25-year prognosis is she may need another liver transplant because there’s scarring from the medication on the liver that was transplanted,” she said.
As an active student, Ashley has a higher risk of catching colds and flu.
But when she was off school last year for a few months with ear infections, she was able to use Skype over the Internet to keep in touch with her classmates.
Logan and her family are grateful for all the support they’ve received from the community, and she encourages others to learn more about organ donation.
“There are two different ways to get a liver transplant. One is through the Trillium gift of life, where you register your consent to donate organs after you die,” said Logan. “You can save up to eight lives.”
The other is to become a living liver donor, much like Ashley’s aunt did.
For more information about Ashley’s Angels, go to www.ashleysangels.ca.