Young girl gets liver transplant in new partnership between UVA, Pittsburgh

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- A new relationship between the University of Virginia Health System and the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is allowing pediatric transplant patients in Virginia to get some of the best care in the country much closer to home.

India Johnson from Norfolk was the first to reap the benefits of this new and improved partnership.

"India is my daughter," said Melody Johnson. "She's 13 years old and she was born with polycystic kidney disease and liver fibrosis."

Because of her condition, India and her family have been in and out of hospitals her entire life.

"Before transplant, there was the dialysis and the medicines and the doctors appointments, not being able to go to school," said India.

But after receiving a new kidney and a new liver, India said everything will change.

"Now I'm going to be able to go to school, meet people and just anything that a normal person does," she said.

India was the first to get a transplant in the new partnership between the UVA Children's Hospital and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

"The pediatric transplant program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is arguably the best in the country even the world," said Dr. Kenneth Brayman, director of UVA's Strickler Transplant Center.

With the program, patients like India are able to meet with doctors at UVA in person and surgeons in Pittsburgh via teleconsult.

When organs become available, a team from Pittsburgh joins surgeons at UVA to perform the transplantation together.

"Our ability to offer the best to the citizens of the Commonwealth was accelerated by developing a collaborative relationship," Brayman said.

India's mother said doctors from both hospitals worked well together to make the process as smooth as possible.

"From the beginning to the end, they explained everything to where I could understand what they were going to do," said Melody.

She said now that India is in recovery, the future is bright.

"Now I'm going to be able to feel like a normal person," said India.

"She did beautifully," added Brayman. "For a first case in such a complicated collaboration, it was spectacularly successful."

For that success India said, "Thank you."

India and her family require assistance to cover medical and travel expenses.

A link to the family's GoFund Me page is linked to this article.

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