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West Fargo infant liver transplant recipient is stable

Aiden Shea rests in this photo posted on the CaringBridge Web site. Aiden is recovering from a liver transplant surgery. "It was a big deal to see those big blue eyes," says his mother, Jill. Special to The Forum

Aiden Shea, a West Fargo infant who received a liver transplant, is deemed out of danger of tissue rejection and soon should be weaned from his ventilator.

Shea, who received a quarter of his father's liver on Aug. 17, is stable and requires less sedation as his ability to breathe on his own improves, said his mother, Jill Shea.

"His vitals are strong," she said.

Aiden was born Aug. 6 and suffered acute liver failure from a viral infection that struck just as he was expected to be discharged from Fargo's MeritCare Hospital.

He was flown by air ambulance to the Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, where a surgical team performed the emergency transplant.

"We're clear on the danger of rejection," Jill Shea said. Surgeons also have enclosed most of his abdomen, left open until he grew to accommodate the size of the adult liver.

His father, Chris Shea, is recovering well from the donor surgery and is expected to return home this weekend, Jill Shea said.

Meanwhile, friends are organizing a fundraising event to help the Shea family pay the medical costs for Aiden's care.

Fall Fest, an annual motorcycle run that traditionally has raised money for the Roger Maris Cancer Center, will contribute 80 percent of proceeds to the Shea family this year. The rest of the proceeds will go to the cancer center.

"We'd like to see $5,000 or so raised," said Mike Persons, who is organizing the Sept. 12 event. "But we'll see what happens."

Fall Fest is open to car drivers as well as motorcyclists, Persons said. For those who don't want to take part in the ride, a benefit concert will follow.

"We'll do it rain or shine," Persons said.

"The outpouring of support has really been holding us up out here," Jill Shea said.

Doctors expect Aiden will be released from the hospital by the end of September but will remain in the Pittsburgh area for observation.

Because his sedation level is being reduced, Aiden has been opening his eyes for the past several days, Jill Shea said. "It was a big deal to see those big blue eyes. Lots of milestones and lots of miracles."