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Young Liver Transplant Recipient Lives Normal, Active Life

Onyi Kenine received a life-saving liver transplant as an infant and it has never held her back from living a normal, healthy life. Her donor is always in her mind as she lives the best life she can.

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Liver transplant recipient Onyi Kenine sprints to the finish line.

Wilmington, DE resident, Onyi Kenine, 12, is just like many other children her age.  She’s energetic, loves sports and has an outgoing personality.  What sets her apart from the others is that when she was a baby – she received a life-saving liver transplant.

At just six months old, Onyi’s mother and father moved from Nigeria to Delaware to have access to the expert medical care that would save their daughter’s life.  Onyi was diagnosed with Biliary Artesia, a rare disease that affects the liver and bile ducts and occurs in infants.  The disease is a life-threatening condition.  Onyi’s mother, Edith, said, “Onyi’s eyes were yellow, her stomach was swollen and she needed a feeding tube.  Our hope was really in God at that point – for Him to do his best.  Our transplant team was amazing.  They are our angels.”

Onyi was fortunate to only have to wait a few months for a new liver, because a family said yes to organ donation.  “After her liver transplant, it was the difference between life and death.  She was eating well. We never really knew what the outcome would be.  Since her transplant, she hasn’t had any setbacks with her development. She bounced back.”  said Edith.

Not everyone has the same opportunity that Onyi did.  Currently, an average of 21 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant in the United States.  In Gift of Life’s region – Delaware, the eastern half of PA and southern NJ – there are more than 5,600 men, women and children awaiting a life-saving transplant.  Unfortunately, there are not enough transplantable organs to meet this critical demand.

“Having a liver transplant never held me back.  I play basketball, tennis and run dashes and relay races in track and field.” said Onyi.  She has also participated in Gift of Life’s Team Philadelphia, earning gold medals in track and field and darts.

Her family is very grateful for Onyi’s gift of life.  “We send cards and write to our donor’s family.  We’re sad for their loss,but we appreciate what they’ve given us.  We remember them through every minute of life.  We always have them in our hearts.” said Edith.

Edith said, “People should be organ donors.  Onyi shows how well transplantation works.  Without it, she wouldn’t be here.  I think many people have a fear of the unknown and that’s why they don’t register.  They need to have more awareness and understand that they can save someone’s life.  I’ve gone through this and Onyi, and she is alive because of her donor and her transplant.  Her donor’s memory still lives on.”

“People should be organ donors.  Onyi shows how well transplantation works.” — Edith Kenine

Everyone has the power to make a change by registering as an organ and tissue donor. By saying yes to donation, you can help put an end to the shortage of registered organ and tissue donors – and ultimately help save lives. Sign up now!