Mitayah Donerlson has been traveling to and from from her home in Syracuse to a hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Her son, Kasen, was born in January of 2020, and the trips are to help save his life.

Kasen was born diagnosed with a severe case of jaundice and respiratory breathing complications when he was born. Within a week of being discharged from the hospital, his mom noticed his symptoms weren't improving.

At the age of two months old and after an unplanned trip to the hospital, Kasen was diagnosed with a rare liver disease known as Biliary Atresia. It's a condition where the bile ducts outside and inside of the liver are scarred and blocked. The damage, according to doctors, leads to scarring, loss of liver tissue and function, and cirrhosis.

Doctors initially tried a procedure that would extend his liver, connecting it to Kasen's small intestine - it soon became clear that to increase his chances of survival, more drastic measures were needed. Kasen would need a liver transplant.

Donerlson decided that the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh would be the best place for Kasen's transplant to be done. They began making visits throughout the summer, with his symptoms and condition fluctuating. Then, the entire situation got worse.

According to CNY Central, in late November, Kasen came down with a fever. This quickly lead to a trip to Upstate Hospital's emergency room, where he was then diagnosed with COVID-19.

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"Immediately I go into tears because I didn't think he was going to make it, I didn't think he was going to suppress the COVID and make it past that stage," Donerlson told CNY Central. "I felt like I failed him as a parent, I felt like I didn't protect him. I felt like I didn't protect my household enough."

Soon after Kasen was diagnosed, Donerlson and multiple other family members became ill. All of them remained strong and pulled through fighting the virus, including Kasen.

Weeks later, the family got life changing news. The Children's Hospital had found a liver donor.

January 2nd, 2021, Kasen entered the operation room.

Days later and Donerlson says her son is in good spirits. He's close to celebrating his first birthday, yet the journey is far from over. Recovery times and procedures mean Kasen may need to stay at the hospital for the next 6 months, meaning Donerlson and likely the rest of the family, including her son and her niece, may have to relocate from Syracuse. CNY Central reports she has looked at options for affordable housing like the Ronald McDonald House of Pittsburgh, but COVID-19 restrictions make it difficult to find a place that would allow her entire family to stay.

Donerlson has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the finances of Kasen's hospital visits and their temporary housing. If you have the means, please consider donating at the button below!

God bless this little man.

[CNY Central]

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