Local mom donates her liver to save her baby’s life

NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A North Syracuse mother is sharing the story of her baby who was born with a rare liver disease, that required her daughter to get two major surgeries at less than one year old.

“We call her warrior Maliyah because she is. She is a warrior,” said Carly Sponable, a North Syracuse mom.

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Maliyah is only eight months old and is still fighting a battle many of us could never imagine. She was born on August 26, 2023, with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease that occurs in infants.

“She had an issue with her stool. So I brought her to the pediatrician and they were concerned, so they wanted to do labs. We went down for labs and they called us immediately and were like you need to get to the hospital. Her liver labs are high. So we went to the hospital and we were told there were definitely two options, is that she could have biliary atresia or she could have a blockage in her bile ducts,” said Sponable.

Sponable says they did more testing, with one of those tests requiring surgery.

“So they scheduled her surgery. She was a month old when she went in for her surgery and the cholangiogram showed that she had no gallbladder and that the bile ducts were not there,” said Sponable.

Sponable says doctors had to cut off a part of her small intestine, connecting it to her liver, in hopes the bile would drain from Maliyah’s liver.

“Unfortunately it didn’t drain from her liver. So she continued to get worse. Her belly filled up with fluid. She was very yellow, her eyes were yellow, her whole body was yellow, and the labs just continued to go higher and higher,” said Sponable.

Sponable says doctors at Upstate Hospital referred her to NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital in New York City where she met with a team there.

“We ended up doing a transplant evaluation and she was actually listed to try and get a deceased donor. She wasn’t bad enough to have a high score to get a deceased donor, so we started looking at a living donation. We didn’t know that that was possible. I honestly never knew that your liver could regenerate. So the fact that we could look around for somebody to save my daughter’s life was pretty incredible,” said Sponable.

Sponable says she made a flyer and shared it on Facebook, receiving many shares. She also had strangers reach out to her, asking Sponable if there was anything they could do to help.

Sponable says even her best friend who lives in South Carolina traveled to the Syracuse area for testing and was a match, up until the very end. Sponable said she continued to search for a match, but her daughter was progressively getting worse.

“At this point, she’s just getting worse and it’s like, if I can save her, I want to,” said Sponable.

Not knowing it was her liver that could save her daughter’s life.

“Being that I gave birth to her, it would have been an issue for me. So I had to wait at least six months. So I honestly feel like it was meant to be because she stayed healthy enough for the six months so I could get healthy enough,” said Sponable.

“I just looked at it as, you know my daughter is a month old and she’s already been through surgery and now she’s going to have surgery again at six months old, so I think it’s time to step up and do it,” said Sponable.

And that’s exactly what she did, undergoing surgery the same day as her daughter to save her life.

“My family and I were out for a walk and my fiance was like, you know it’s crazy to think that your liver is inside of our daughter right now and it is. I would have never thought in a million years that could happen. I don’t know. Everything happens for a reason. I am not sure why we were dealt this card, but we took it and we’re handling it,” said

A mother-daughter bond like no other.

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