“When you’re in the hospital for that length of time, you search for the goodness. [Me Fine’s support] was one of the miracles for the whole six weeks.”
In August 2012, Melissa and her husband temporarily moved into Duke Children’s Hospital. All because of Sofie.
Sofie was born with Biliary Atresia, a rare disease that prevents bile (which transports waste) from being removed from the liver. As the bile began to build up in Sofie, her liver started to fail. For this five-month-old, a liver transplant was the family’s only option.
Neither parent wanted to leave their daughter’s side as the wait for a new liver began. Sofie was so tiny that it was difficult for match her with an appropriate-sized donor. Her medical team turned down several potential matches. Three weeks passed. Then, the Blackmon’s received the news: a match. But, after an initially successful transplant, the new liver clotted. The waiting ordeal started again.
Sofie’s health was growing ever precarious day after day. Throughout the six weeks at Duke, Melissa and her husband traded off staying at the hospital so that at least one parent was with Sofie at all times. Their other two children, ages 7 and 5 at the time, remained at home with Melissa’s parents, who had traveled down from Maryland.
“My son actually turned five during this time,” Melissa reflected. “Since he was just starting kindergarten, we would take the hour drive home from Duke early in in the morning, to just see him off to school on his first few days.”
Still, the family waited for the precious gift of life for their daughter. One week after her first transplant, Sofie underwent her second, which proved to be an absolute success.
Even in the midst of such welcomed news, the time spent in the hospital added up for Melissa and her family in multiple ways. The expenses from several weeks of a hotel stay, gasoline traveling back and forth to see their kids, and eating out for that length of time added up. Her youngest son even celebrated his fifth birthday in the hospital courtyard, with an extra gift provided by MeFine.
For the Blackmon family, Me Fine Foundation provided behind-the-scenes support to offset some of their financial worries in the form of gas cards, gift cards for groceries, baby toys for Sofie, and presents for Melissa to gift her kids. Being away from her other two children during those six weeks was difficult and painful; for Melissa, having the chance to reward them for their patience and flexibility was graciously welcomed.
“When you’re in hospital for that length of time, you search for the goodness. That was one of the miracles for the whole six weeks,” Melissa reflected.
Melissa continues to pay her own family’s miracle forward as a full-time staff member with Donate Life North Carolina, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting awareness of organ, eye, and tissue donation. North Carolinians can register to become donors through the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and online here.