Hope for a new start and a full, healthy life is just one phone call away for 14-month-old Karlee Shannon, who was just placed on the national liver donor registry on Tuesday, March 8.
Karlee’s mother, Erynn Bailey of Milo, told me as soon as that call comes, LifeFlight will take them to Children’s Hospital in Boston where Karlee’s family will learn whether she and the donor are a match.
If not, it’s a return trip home, and another wait for another call for Erynn and her fiance, Karlee’s daddy, Brian Shannon, of Milo.
Erynn explained to me that Karlee has “a genetic liver condition,” which means she “has a mutation in one of her chromosomes.
“The doctors have never really seen it before and don’t know how to address it,” she said, which is why a transplant appears to be Karlee’s best chance for a normal life.
“With her liver being so damaged from all that’s gone on in the last 14 months, and her liver not secreting all the bile it should, she is extremely jaundiced and she’s on six different medications.”
But, her mother added, although Karlee “has her moments, and sometimes has really bad belly aches, mostly you wouldn’t know she is sick.
“If you saw her, you would just see her yellow, because she’s a good little girl and she smiles a lot. She’s very happy.”
While Karlee and her family wait for the transplant and keep in touch with her three doctors (one in Bangor, one in Boston and one in Chicago), friends of Erynn and Brian, who are both Penquis Valley of Milo graduates, are doing what they can to help the couple with expenses incurred by Karlee’s condition.
As they face life dealing with this complex medical process, Brian is able to continue his employment with JSI Store Fixtures in Milo, but Erynn has had to take a leave of absence from her position as a medical assistant for two psychiatrists at Mayo Regional Hospital. So friends, including Melissa Weston of Brownville Junction, are stepping up to help them, along with many business owners throughout the area.
A benefit spaghetti supper for Karlee and her family will be held 4-6 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at Brownville Elementary School on Main Road.
Admission is by donation at the door, Melissa said, and the benefit will include a 50-50 raffle, a silent auction and several basket raffles “filled with all sorts of goodies.”
Melissa told me individuals and business owners have been wonderfully supportive of this event for little Karlee.
“All the things we’ve gotten were donated,” Melissa said.
“All sorts of businesses” have made contributions of items such as store and gift certificates and baskets filled with everything from candles to a complete “graduation” basket.
“Olive Garden donated bread sticks, House of Pizza donated sauce, and Shaw’s in Dover-Foxcroft donated 40 pounds of spaghetti,” she said.
In addition, people have been making direct financial contributions to help the family.
If you cannot attend the benefit, but want to help with the expenses for Karlee’s transplant, checks in Erynn’s name can be sent in care of Melissa Weston, P.O. Box 84, Brownville Junction, 04415, or to Erynn Bailey at 71 Main St., Milo 04463.
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Robin Long of Caring Connections, a program of the Bangor Y and Eastern Maine Medical Center, reminds readers the Bangor Y’s Spring Fair is March 25-27 at Bangor Auditorium and, as part of that fundraiser, Caring Connections is hosting its “Gently Used” Book Sale of books, CDs and DVDs at its booth in the auditorium lobby.
Caring Connections is seeking donations of these items for children and adults, and Robin hopes you will contribute some of your collections.
She requests books for adults be less than 10 years old, and that you do not include instructional manuals, textbooks or encyclopedias.
For more information about dropping off donations or having them picked up in the Bangor-Brewer area, call Caring Connections at 941-2808.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.