You would do anything if your baby’s life is on the line, but would you have the same passion and desire if it was a stranger’s. Robin Bliven, a member of an online mom group on Facebook posted a photo of Andrea Alberto, 32, while carrying baby Callum Rescanski, 11 months.
Young Cal will be undergoing liver surgery, and Andrea will be giving a portion of her liver for the infant’s operation so the baby could live.
At first glance, you would think that Andrea is the mother of Cal, but upon reading the photo’s caption, you would know the two are not even remotely related. Andrea never met Cal nor his mother, Beth Rescanski. Alberto is a fellow member of the Facebook group for moms, along with Robin and Beth. The two found Andrea after crowdsourcing candidates for Cal’s live liver donor.
“People can say a lot of things about mom’s groups on the internet,” wrote Bliven on the Facebook post. “Here’s what I can tell you about mine… when this little sack of sugar, Cal, needed a LIVER from a live donor in order to survive, over 100 moms from my group called to be screened as potential donors.”
Andrea, who often refused and shied away from being called a hero, willingly donated a piece of her body to a fellow mom whom she never met, except through Facebook. She did not waste another second when she found out Cal was listed for a liver transplant.
In her quest to save baby Cal’s life, Andrea met obstacles along the way. As a single mom, she had to leave her sons Jack, 8, and Ben Brooks, 4, and travel from Boston to New Haven.
Cal’s special case made it challenging for Andrea and her online mom’s group to crowdsource for a donor. Liver transplant surgeries mostly use donations from a deceased person. After the briefing in the hospital, Beth found out Cal needed a liver from a live donor to give the child’s liver to regenerate to its normal size within a few weeks.
In the course of the crowdsourcing period, Beth’s Facebook group had meetings in the Northeast region where she met Andrea in person, not knowing she already met the woman who can potentially save his son’s life.
The surgery turned out to be successful, and baby Cal is taking his time towards full recovery. Just recently, his feeding tube was removed. Andrea went home 14 days after the procedure while Cal went after his 25th day. Surgery for live donors for liver transplant are more invasive than kidney surgery and takes quite long.
Most people have a prejudice against online mom groups as place of judgment where mothers compare their kids and share funny photos or rants. But Robin, Andrea, and Beth’s group crowdsourcing and banding together is proof of how online mom groups can be a source of support and empowerment.
“You can talk smack about mom groups on Facebook all you want…but don’t talk smack about mine, because we crowdsourced a freaking organ.” Bliven wrote in her post.
When asked about why she donated her liver to a baby she didn’t know, Andrea gave an inspiring response: “I don’t think your relationship with someone is necessary for doing something to help them. If there is someone in need and there is something you can reasonably do to help them, why wouldn’t you do it? I like to think that if it was one of my kids in need, someone from my extended network would step in to help.”
Alberto’s sons, Jack and Ben, were supportive of their mom’s decision. Her boys have been telling their friends how their mom “saved a baby.” The crowdsourcing efforts of Bliven’s Facebook group made Andrea the 97th unrelated liver donor in history.