‘Edie the Extraordinary’ receives new liver from unexpected donor

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RED BANK – After more than 100 individuals applied to be a potential liver donor for Edie O’Neill, a 4-month-old infant from Red Bank, no one would have guessed her perfect match would be a fellow O’Neill.

“Going through all of the information, the doctors felt Becky was the best match,” Edie’s mother, Bridget O’Neill, said in an interview on Feb. 11.

Rebecca “Becky” O’Neill is Bridget’s 23-year-old cousin.

Two weeks after Edie was born, her mother said, doctors noticed she had jaundice. Blood tests indicated the baby had an abnormal liver function.

“From there, (Edie) progressed to the point where it was an emergency situation … and ultimately being listed for a liver transplant. (Doctors) still don’t know the cause of why this happened,” O’Neill said.

A search for a liver donor began. Edie’s donor had to be between 21 and 30 years old, have an A+/- or O+/-‘ blood type, and weigh 100 pounds or less, according to the family’s Go Fund Me page, which refers to the baby as “Edie the Extraordinary.”

As of Feb. 12, the crowdsourcing platform had garnered more than $64,000 in donations for Edie.

O’Neill said her younger cousin turned out to be a perfect match for Edie.

According to hopkinsmedicine.org, the liver is the only organ in the body that can regenerate. During surgery, a portion of the donor’s liver is removed and transplanted to the person who needs the organ. The donor’s liver will grow back to normal size after surgery.

Edie received her liver transplant on Jan. 31 and her proud mother said her daughter is “recovering well.” Edie is still in the pediatric intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, but O’Neill said the baby is “making progress.”

“We could not be more thankful to Becky,” O’Neill said. “She handled it so maturely for someone who is 23. She stepped up right away and the process moved really quickly because Edie was in such critical need.

“Rebecca handled this with grace beyond her years … You can never appropriately thank someone for doing that. (Rebecca) exemplifies what it means to be a family,” O’Neill said.

Edie is the first child of Bridget O’Neill, 28, and her husband, Justin O’Neill, 31. Before they were married, Bridget and Justin were foster parents to 13 children.