For 7 years, Shannon did remarkably well. Then on June 29, 1997, Shannon was admitted to Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago where her hepatologist diagnosed her with post transplant auto-immune hepatitis. She was only the 7th reported case in the country with such a diagnosis at that time. (Post transplant auto immune hepatitis wasn’t officially recorded in the U.S. until 1998.)
Despite this setback and often being in the spotlight with the news media that her story attracted, Shannon lived a relatively normal life. She attended school, celebrated birthdays and holidays, went trick-or-treating and sat on Santa’s lap. She went roller-skating and horseback riding, saw Broadway shows and went on family vacations. And each year Shannon and her family would celebrate the anniversary of her liver transplant with a party, presents and cake.
As the years passed, Shannon’s story gained a lot of attention and even gained her a spot on the Today Show. In 2007, Shannon was a greeter for President and Mrs. Bush when they arrived at the Willow Grove Air Force Base and was later an invited guest to the White House.
On May 27, 2016, Shannon married Jesse, and together they embraced love, life and family.
In February of 2018, Shannon’s liver labs became elevated and she spent 6 days in the hospital. In the Fall of 2018, Shannon and Jesse welcomed their son, Luke into the world. Shannon’s labs were watched closely, but they became elevated again. She had a liver biopsy that revealed rejection - something her family had feared since the early days after her transplant 28 years ago. She was hospitalized again - for 5 days - and put on IV steroids. She was sent home and labs were monitored closely but were not going down. On August 31, Shannon had another liver biopsy which revealed that the rejection was still not under control. She was hospitalized and started on an intensive IV infusion that was aimed at destroying the T-cells in her body and to stop her body from rejecting her liver. Though the treatment seems to have been effective, its intensity has wrought havoc on Shannon’s body. A spinal tap was performed revealing very high intracranial pressure in Shannon’s cerebral spinal fluid. She was put on morphine and moved to a room where she could be closely monitored. A CT scan revealed fluid in the meningi behind Shannon’s left ear - all day she’d complained of hearing loss that worsened in that ear. And a neurologist on the hospital’s neuro team revealed that she was confident this was meningitis.
After an urgent plea on Facebook by Shannon’s mom Kelly, stating “IMMEDIATE PRAYERS NEEDED ... Prepping Shannon for lumbar puncture. Meningitis.,” an entire community of family and friends from all over the country began to pray. Evening Masses were attended. Rosaries were prayed. And people all over this country (as well as in Germany, Greece, Italy, the U.K., Russia, Indonesia and possibly others) got on their knees for Shannon. Shannon’s husband Jesse and her father Joe left work to be at Shannon’s side.
Around 7:00 p.m., hospital chaplain, Father Ridley appeared in Shannon’s room. He prayed with her and her mom. With eyes closed, Shannon was hardly able even to speak the word “Amen,” but whispered his name as he went to leave. He didn’t hear her, but Kelly’s mom did. “She’s trying to tell you something,” Kelly said. “I’d like to receive Communion,” Shannon whispered. Father Ridley gave Shannon the Eucharist as multitudes of people back home were praying. That night, Wednesday, September 5, between 7:00 and 8:00, Shannon was healed. By the grace of God, the meningitis miraculously came to a halt. At 7:55 p.m., Shannon - who’d been paralyzed by head, neck, ear and jaw pain - asked for something to eat.
It’s been 9 days since Shannon was admitted to the hospital at this writing. Doctors have no explanation as to how meningitis could come to a screeching halt and turn around so quickly. A neurologist who confirmed meningitis has no explanation as to how all the cultures - bacterial, viral and fungal - all came back negative. And a GI doctor confirmed that she has never seen anyone with meningitis recover so immediately.
Though doctors and specialists can provide no explanation for Shannon’s healing, we can. On September 5, 2018, Shannon was granted a miracle.
Her road ahead is uncertain. Currently there is a short term and long term plan for her treatment. Her liver numbers are still not completely down, but some are already back in the normal range. And Shannon should be able to go home soon. Doctors have already told her that she’ll need to be back in NYC for weekly outpatient visits and that another biopsy may be needed soon.
Shannon, Jesse and Luke have begun their journey as a family, and with great faith they have accepted the path chosen for them.
They have incurred so many unexpected expenses - loss of wages, tolls and parking, eating out, and medical co-pays and bills. If in your heart you feel called to assist them during this difficult part of their journey, please know how grateful they will be.
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