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11-year-old has liver transplant after contracting COVID

It’s been a life-changing month for one Lincoln family.
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 5:00 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -It’s been a life-changing month for one Lincoln family. Four weeks ago, 11-year-old Harper Lethcoe tested positive for COVID-19. Now she’s gone through significant hospital stay and a liver transplant.

In early January, Harper was sent home from school with a fever. Her mom, Jamie, took her to the hospital. They said her symptoms looked like the flu and then sent her home. After that, Jamie ,Harper’s mom, said everything took a turn for the worst.

“All I really remember was collapsing in the hallway to my parent’s room,” said Harper.

It’s been a life-changing month for one Lincoln family. Four weeks ago, 11-year-old Harper...
It’s been a life-changing month for one Lincoln family. Four weeks ago, 11-year-old Harper Lethcoe tested positive for COVID-19. Now she’s gone through significant hospital stay and a liver transplant.(10/11 NOW)

What doctors thought was the flu led to frequent vomiting.

“It was probably two days after the first trip to the ER after I noticed the whites of her eyes were totally yellow,” said Jamie.

Harper was positive for COVID-19 and her liver was failing. Jamie’s active and healthy 11-year-old, who had spent the summer riding horses with friends, needed a new liver.

“It was extremely, extremely scary,” said Jamie. “Hearing your child needs any kind of transplant, I was in denial.”

After an ambulance ride to UNMC, the Lethcoe’s found out Harper’s cousin was a match, but was unable to give. Hours after that, they learned they’d found Harper another match. Soon, that liver was in Omaha, flown four hours to get to Harper.

Jamie Lethcoe, Harper’s Mom: I got a phone call at about 10:30 p.m. and all they said was old liver out, new liver in.

After surgery, they brought Harper home, but she was so out of it she could barely talk.

“I held her hand at bedside and just kept squeezing it three times, I love you,” said Jamie.

Now the 11-year-old is feeling more like herself and recovering by doing physical therapy.

“We just work on going up and down stairs, leg muscles, because I have to be able to walk for at least 10 minutes because my school is kind of big,” said Harper.

And adjusting to new life as a liver recipient.

“I’m feeling good, I just have pain really, otherwise I’m probably perfectly fine,” said Harper.

Jamie said while there is no exact explanation for what happened to Harper, she said one of their doctors said it’s possible this was caused by multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. It’s a condition related to COVID-19.

To help donate to Harper’s GoFundMe, click here.

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