It was Easter weekend when Kendyll and her husband Preston received the gut-wrenching news that their bright and shining one-year-old son, Nash, had cancer.
Only two days earlier, Kendyll woke up to change Nash’s diaper when she felt a mass on the right side of his body. A trip to Phoenix Children’s Hospital followed by bloodwork, CT scans, MRIs, and biopsies confirmed their worst fears: Nash had Hepatoblastoma covering 75% of his liver.
“Everything went quickly but it also felt like slow motion,” Kendyll recalls.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital quickly became the family’s second home as Nash started chemotherapy that Monday. On August 1, his name was officially added to the liver transplant waiting list. “Our doctors said we should get Nash dual listed,” says Kendyll. “That means he could have his liver transplant at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) or Phoenix Children’s Hospital.”
To become a liver transplant recipient at CHLA, the family had to visit the hospital beforehand. “We thought about driving (to LA), but there’s a huge distance of 300 miles of desert and I was worried about Nash’s health,” says Kendyll. “Our doctor wouldn’t approve a commercial flight. I don’t think a lot of people really understand what it means when someone is severely immuno-suppressed. We can’t even go to church or the grocery store right now.”
With the help of Angel Flight West’s volunteer pilots, Nash and his parents were able to visit CHLA by air while minimizing the risk of illness.
Nash’s journey quickly touched the lives of our volunteer pilots, who were glad to help the family get to LA and back home. “What a wonderful family,” says Command Pilot Todd Cusolle. “It was my honor to spend part of my day with them.”
During the first week of November, the family finally got the news they’d been waiting for – a transplant was available for Nash. And after a successful surgery, he’s now the recipient of a healthy liver.
“We know transitioning to being a transplant recipient means a new chapter, new medicine, new protocol, new trainings, and new things to overcome,” says Kendyll. “But Nash is officially cancer free.”