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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, Dec 16, 2004, 11:00 am ET

    Prayers for Lesia
    By H. Krill



    Los Angeles — The adorable blue-eyed blonde in her mother's embrace above will soon be celebrating her 2nd birthday. Until that big day arrives, however, little Lesia is patiently awaiting very important news at a Los Angeles hospital - about a liver transplant donation that she may need even sooner.

    Lesia was diagnosed with a cancerous liver tumor on Father's Day weekend this past June. Her parents had brought her in for a routine 15-month checkup. Everything seemed normal enough, but while poking around (as doctors do) Lesia's pediatrician noticed that her liver seemed a bit distended. A quick test showing elevated protein levels indicated the possibility of a tumor. Further testing confirmed the presence of cancer, but fortunately it had not spread into the child's other organs.

    Chemotherapy treatments were started immediately, but they did not achieve the desired result of reducing the size of the tumor. The oncologist then switched to a more aggressive treatment called chemoembolization. This new therapy managed to bring down the size of the tumor to an operable level. The complication now, however, is that the tumor may be situated too close to a blood vessel, making it necessary to replace the entire liver as opposed to just removing the cancerous tissue.

    According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN website), some 17,768 patients are currently on the waiting list for liver transplants. Lesia's case is classified Status 1, a top priority category, which suggests that the earliest compatible organ will be made available for her surgery.

    Except for the visible effects of the chemotherapy, Lesia's dad says that her cheerful disposition has not changed at all in spite of the strenuous medical treatments that she has undergone during the last six months.

    There is little else that can be done for now except to wait, but the little girl's parents asked for everyone's prayers that a liver donor is found quickly, and that the surgery is successful. Success means that Lesia will become cancer-free and that she will remain that way going into the future.

    A "CarePages" website has been set up for well-wishers. The website requires a simple registration.

    By the way, Lesia's surgeon is Dr. Yurij Genyk, who was born in Ukraine and trained at the Ivano-Frankivsk Medical Institute before completing his postgraduate medical and research training in the US.

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