ORGAN TRANSPLANTS Teralynn again awaits new liver and kidneys

Teralynn remains on the top of the donor list at the Cleveland Clinic for her weight class.



YOUNGSTOWN — Teralynn Landis McGath’s young life has been full of ups and downs.

Diagnosed at 2 months old with a fatal liver disease called tyrosinemia, she underwent three liver transplants before her fourth birthday.

Against all odds, Teralynn survived, defying her doctor’s terminal prognosis and becoming the youngest Mahoning Valley resident to undergo an organ transplant.

In October 2006, the 22-year-old was married before a joyful mother and father.

Now her story has taken another turn. She received word in July that both her liver and kidneys are in need of replacement.

After 19 years of use, her liver has succumbed to sclerosis, a form of scarring common in transplant patients. Meanwhile, her kidneys have suffered irreparable damage from anti-organ-rejection medication, according to her mother, Kathy Landis.

“She’s been real sick,” her mother said. “This whole year she’s been in and out of hospitals.”

Teralynn remains on the top of the donor list at the Cleveland Clinic for her weight class. But her small stature and her blood type make her a tough fit on the organ market, said Kathy Landis.

Now the Landis family is once again appealing to the community for support.

“They [the medical community] asked us to try to get the word out there,” Kathy Landis said. “We would also like to ask for those prayers to keep her alive.”

Kathy Landis said she struggles daily with a moral dilemma: how to hope an organ will surface for her daughter while not wishing harm on anyone else.

She said she prays first that accident victims will live.

“What we’re asking is that if something tragic happens, that [the public] think about organ donation,” she said. “It’s a wonderful gift. If it doesn’t help Teralynn, it will help someone else.”

Teralynn and her husband, Allen McGath, have been living in Youngstown. Since she fell ill, she has stopped working part time as a pet sitter. He is a manager at Tinseltown USA movie theaters in Boardman.

But married life hasn’t exactly lived up to her dreams, said Teralynn, whose low red blood cell count leaves her feeling weak, cold and nauseated.

“I have no energy to do anything,” she said. “I’m usually just on the couch in my pajamas.”

Teralynn’s dream had been to have a child. Now, that dream is on hold, according to her mother.

“That’s on the back burner now,” said Kathy. “She’s got to focus on staying alive.”

Should a matching liver donor be found and Teralynn undergoes a successful replacement, her doctor said she could still give birth to a healthy child one day.

After all, she’s overcome the odds before.

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