"Thank you a thousand times over." Susan Balcirak's Letter to the CLDT

April 6, 2005

Dear Dr. Jean Emond, Dr. Robert Brown, Dr. Steven Lobritto, Dr. Raghu Varadarajan, Dr. Mercedes Martinez, Kara Ventura, Patricia Harren, and all the nurses in the PICU and Tower 4th Floor:

You probably get letters like these all the time. My son Dean Balcirak III had a living donor liver transplant (from my husband) March 15th of last year. He was 7½ months old. I always meant to send a thank you letter, but now that it is his 1-year anniversary and we can see how much he has changed, what you have done for us is even more meaningful.

We were given words of encouragement and hope from the beginning. Dr. Emond said that "these babies come to me as little yellow baldies, and when they come back I don't even recognize them." And Dr. Lobritto said that soon we will be more worried about Dean jumping off the top bunk bed and breaking a leg than anything liver related. It was hard to believe any of that at the time, though we really wanted to. We were afraid to be too hopeful.

Dean Balcirak III with his father, Dean Balcirak II, who donated a portion of his own liver for his son's transplant.Now Dean truly is a normal little boy. He is a good size and growing fast, a typical toddler. We look back at a picture of him before his transplant and can't believe he is the same kid. No more fat prednisone cheeks, no more emaciated limbs and swollen belly, no more yellow eyes and skin. We are incredibly thankful to have him with us and to see him growing up with endless potential.

I know that transplanting these biliary atresia children is a routine thing for all of you, and you know that almost all of them are going to get better when they come to your office for the first time with scared parents. From the parents' perspective, what you do is truly a miracle. I can't say how much we appreciate what you do. You have saved the life of our son and made our lives so much happier.

Your jobs are very demanding and take a lot of time away from your personal lives. Thank you for your sacrifices and thank you to all your families and friends for sharing you with your careers so that you can do these amazing things for others. You have saved so many lives and touched so many more as a result. Thank you a thousand times over for your selfless commitment to medicine and to your fellow human beings.


Susan Balcirak