“We’ve rediscovered popcorn,” Leslie Mangus said as she watches her daughter, Ansley, reach into the bag for a handful of Boom Chicka Pop, a snack the little girl savors as she waits in the exam room for one of her regular checkups at Children’s. Ansley smiles as she chews, enjoying every morsel of the salty treat she couldn’t eat for the four years she waited for a liver transplant.
Ansley was born healthy in 2006, growing and developing as expected. But at age 5, she was diagnosed with a 10 centimeter cyst in her liver that was blocking her common bile duct and needed to be removed by surgery at Children’s of Alabama. Surgery was a success and after a 10 day stay, Ansley and her family returned home to Fairhope, Alabama. But soon, the little girl’s health began declining rapidly. Leslie and her husband, George, immediately brought her back to Children’s. The immediate medical crisis was averted but it was clear that Ansley needed a transplant.
Over the next several years, Ansley’s health remained stable but required trips to Children’s every two to three weeks for tests to monitor her liver function. She was placed on a strict diet to keep her sodium levels as low as possible and reduce the burden on her liver. Finally, in September, 2015, the Mangus family received “the call” that put them on a fast trip to Birmingham for transplant surgery.
The surgery went well and Ansley was able to go home just a few weeks later. And while her life is gradually getting back to normal, the impact of her transplant experience stays with her. She says her motto is “I’ll try” when faced with new or difficult challenges, and she keeps a positive attitude with little complaining. Ansley is also helping other transplant patients by bringing goody bags to her clinic visits to share when they arrive for their own surgery.
“Ansley has amazed us all with her pre-transplant confidence, and her post-transplant determination. She remained positive throughout her entire hospital stay and always answered any request to push herself with a very quiet, ‘I’ll try,’ said Robin Greer, MSN, CRNP, who is the Liver Transplant Coordinator at Children’s. “The Mangus family has maintained an attitude of gratitude for the gift of life they received from an unknown donor and have worked incredibly hard to bring awareness to organ donation. It is an honor to walk alongside this family as they are learning to navigate the journey of transplant and I’m excited to be on the sidelines watching Ansley’s future unfold.”