Girl in controversial case received mother's kidney

Joe and Chrissy Rivera with daughter Amelia. Chrissy Rivera gave the 4-year-old a kidney this month, and the girl is home after also being treated for an infection. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Joe and Chrissy Rivera with daughter Amelia. Chrissy Rivera gave the 4-year-old a kidney this month, and the girl is home after also being treated for an infection. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Posted: August 01, 2013

Amelia Rivera, the disabled child who gained national attention last year when a Children's Hospital of Philadelphia physician recommended against giving her a kidney transplant, has received a kidney from her mother.

On Tuesday, Chrissy Rivera shared the news of her 4-year-old daughter's successful transplant at Children's by posting on a website for families affected by Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Amelia has the rare genetic disorder, which causes developmental disabilities and a shortened life expectancy.

Rivera, who declined a request for a telephone interview, wrote that her daughter received the transplanted kidney on July 3, and they went home to Stratford, Camden County, on July 12. The next day, however, Amelia was readmitted to the hospital with a urinary tract infection "due to a small leak in the bladder."

She was discharged again Saturday, three weeks after the transplant.

"Many things happened during the course of our journey that eventually we plan to share," Rivera wrote. "However, we are emotionally drained and in the thick of learning a new medical regimen for Amelia. The focus now is on our family."

Rivera and her husband, Joe, were initially told by a Children's physician that Amelia was not a good transplant candidate because she was "mentally retarded." Denial of a transplant purely on the basis of a disability would violate the Americans With Disabilities Act, according to disability law experts.

After an outpouring of outrage, including a change.org petition signed by more than 22,800 people, the hospital apologized for the way it had communicated with the parents and said it was still evaluating Amelia's case.

Hospital officials did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, another controversial transplant patient, Sarah Murnaghan, continues to recover at Children's. The 10-year-old Delaware County girl, who has cystic fibrosis, gained national attention when her parents fought to get her placed on the waiting list for adult lungs. Her first transplant of adult lungs on June 12 failed, and a second surgery was performed three days later.


Contact Marie McCullough at 215-854-2720 or mmccullough@phillynews.com.

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