Health Team

Durham girl home for Christmas after long hospital stay, organ transplants

Posted December 14, 2015

— It was just after Christmas one year ago that an 8-year-old Durham girl got sick. Since then, Shania Harris has spent about 320 days at Duke University Hospital waiting for, and then receiving, two organs from one donor.

Shania was born with a small hole in her heart, but infant surgery at Duke was able to repair it. Shania's mother, Ashley Robinson, said everything was fine until Jan. 23.

"She was just complaining of like, stomach aches really bad," Robinson said.

The family ended up at Duke's emergency department, where doctors discovered that Shania had heart issues and needed a kidney transplant. They hoped good kidney care, while waiting for a donor, would reduce stress on her heart.

"Then it became pretty clear, unfortunately, that after a few months of dialysis and treatment for the kidney failure, that her heart was not getting better," said cardiologist Dr. Heather Henderson.

Shania became the first child at Duke to receive two different organ systems in combined transplant surgeries. It involved a large team of heart, kidney and intensive care specialists to plan the surgery and find a suitable donor.

"It's important to recognize and thank the donor family for thinking of this beautiful child in their time of distress, because they are the ones that really made this possible," said kidney transplant surgeon Dr. Allan Kirk.

Shania and Robinson spent 10 months in intensive care waiting for the Nov. 16 surgery.

Shania will be home for Christmas, but her family said nothing could possibly top the day she was released from the hospital.


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