By Alyce Collins
THIS WOMAN had TWO LIVER TRANSPLANTS and was told she would never be a MOTHER by doctors until she was later admitted to hospital with a liver infection where she was told she was SIX WEEKS PREGNANT – and although medics at the time warned her that the pregnancy was unlikely to last, she has since given birth to a healthy miracle baby.
Entrepreneur Hannah Rosenfelder (29) from Colorado, USA, was born with biliary atresia, a liver disease which causes the narrowing and blockage of bile ducts but was diagnosed at six weeks old after becoming jaundice. A Kasai procedure was performed straight away to prevent further liver damage.
Throughout her childhood, Hannah was in and out of hospital before receiving her first liver transplant at 15 years old. As a teen, Hannah had to miss out on many opportunities with her friends because she was sick, and she often had to attend school with an IV in her hand.
After her transplant, Hannah was less afraid of getting sick and her skin and eyes were no longer yellow. Unfortunately, in the years that followed her transplant, Hannah’s bile ducts couldn’t stay open to allow the bile to flow, which led to more sickness. By the time she was 23, Hannah was placed back on the transplant list to receive her second liver transplant two years later.
Hannah was always told she was unlikely to have children but following her second transplant it was even less likely because her body couldn’t handle pregnancy. Hannah didn’t have monthly periods and her body worked on survival mode instead of thriving. This didn’t bother Hannah much until she saw her friends starting families, upsetting her that she couldn’t have one with her husband, Ryan (29).
In March 2017, Hannah went to hospital with another liver infection, but before doing a CT scan, nurses did a routine pregnancy test. Afterwards, Hannah’s doctor asked whether she knew she was six weeks pregnant, much to her amazement. Doctors told her not to get excited because the pregnancy wouldn’t last, but she refused to believe them. At 37 weeks, Hannah welcomed her daughter Hadley on October 25, weighing 5lb 6oz – her miracle that should have never happened.
“I was born with biliary atresia and have been in and out of the hospital my whole life,” said Hannah.
“I became jaundice, so my mum took me to the doctor at six weeks and that’s when I was diagnosed.
“I required my first transplant at 15, but the actual surgery didn’t really hit me until I got the call. Medical problems were so normal to me that I didn’t think about the surgery much, I more feared not knowing when I was going to get the call that would change my life.
“I was excited that this could mean an end to my hospital stays and a fresh start to life that I wanted badly. At 15, you want to fit in, and I never felt like I did because I was always sick or going to school with an IV in my hand.
“My first transplant changed my life because for the first time, my skin and eyes weren’t yellow. I wasn’t afraid that at any moment I could get sick. I had never known what it was like to feel healthy and have energy until I got my new liver – it was the best feeling in the world.
“I had a lot of bile duct problems as they wouldn’t stay open to allow the bile to flow, so I was frequently sick. There came a point when I spent 280 days of 2015 in hospital.
“My liver was too sick to continue so they told me I was going to have to get back on the list. The recovery was going to be a lot harder and I was so tired that I just wasn’t sure I could go through it all again mentally. I was scared to put my husband through it also. In some ways I felt guilty for needing another organ, like I’d failed.
“I was always told it was very unlikely I could have kids. After my second transplant, they said that my body most likely couldn’t grow a baby or handle pregnancy, and I never had the normal monthly time for a girl.
“My body was in survival mode, so it just did what was necessary to keep me alive. I knew without the right hormones there was no way I could even make a baby.”
Being told she couldn’t have children was difficult for Hannah, but seeing her friends become mothers made it even harder to accept. However, in March 2017 when Hannah fell sick with a liver infection, she was found to be six weeks pregnant.
Although her third trimester was difficult because Hannah’s body was pushed to its limit, being pregnant was a miracle that no one thought would ever happen and Hannah would do it all again for her daughter. After refusing to let the nurses’ negativity stop her from having faith in her body, Hannah encourages others to not be defined by their circumstances.
“When my friends started having babies while I was fighting to stay alive after my second transplant, I got really upset that I wasn’t going to be able to have kids. I just wanted to feel like one of the girls,” said Hannah.#
“In March 2017, I went to hospital with a liver infection. I had stomach pain along with yellow eyes, skin and my husband could smell bile on me. I had no appetite and my stomach was enlarged. I know the feeling of liver infection so well since it’s happened so often.
“Whenever I go to the hospital, they do CT scans, but before they can do that, they have me do a pregnancy test.
“Afterwards, the doctor came in and asked whether I was aware that I was pregnant. I was in shock and I asked him to repeat it for me three times before he finally asked me whether I understood what he was telling me. I was shocked, scared, excited and in disbelief all at once.
“I was in hospital for 10 days and since I was pregnant, they had to change the IV antibiotics they could give me as well as reducing pain medication.
“The doctors told us not to get our hopes up because it probably wouldn’t work out. We both knew that this baby was a miracle, so I told the nurses that they weren’t allowed to talk about the pregnancy not lasting around me. I knew that the more they talked about it, it would make me scared and I didn’t need that.
“I was told as a little girl I might never walk, that I’d be short and have speech problem, but these things never happened. I knew we were given this gift for a reason. I prayed the night we found out and I felt this peace that she was safe. I never worried about her or feared whether she was okay. I knew that she had a special calling and she was safe in me.
“My pregnancy was easy because most of the symptoms like nausea, water weight and fatigue were all things I was used to dealing with. The third trimester was difficult because my body was working so hard, I ended up in the hospital every few weeks with an infection.
“I went in at 37 weeks to be induced because my body couldn’t handle much more. I was terrified to be cut open while awake but I knew it was what I had to do. They prepped me and then waited for my transplant team to come into the room, and minutes later Hadley was born.
“The moment I held her it was like everything stopped. I couldn’t believe I was holding this precious baby that everyone else said was impossible. I felt so much gratitude to my donor families because if it wasn’t for them, I would never have had her. Hadley has given me another reason to keep fighting for my health.
“I want people to know that what you have been through doesn’t define you. For so long I felt like an outcast and the sick girl, but that’s not true. We’re so much more than our circumstances.”
To see more, visit www.instagram.com/hannah_rosenfelder