Myka Joy Reeder is a thriving 4-year-old girl, thanks to the life-saving liver transplant that she received in January 2017 at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Myka was born with a rare genetic disease, Methylmalonic Acidemia, in which her body is unable to correctly metabolize certain amino acids found in protein. Her new liver greatly helps with the metabolism process and has given her a chance to develop more normally.
In March, Myka was given an amazing opportunity to meet the family of her liver donor, Ashley Hardaway Theriot.
Ashley was a 32-year-old vibrant woman who lived a traveled and storied life, as she served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine and even published a travel guide about Ukraine.
She spoke multiple languages and worked for the State Department. After spending the holidays in Columbia with some of her family and husband, Ashley suffered a massive stroke on January 1, 2017, and passed away soon after.
In July of 2018, Ashley’s family received the letter that I had written in hopes of connecting with them. Out of that letter a relationship blossomed between Regan and Ashley’s sisters, Aubrey and Aimee, and her mother, Elaine.
The two families had the opportunity to meet in Orlando, Florida and spent the evening enjoying ice cream, watching Myka run around with her big sister, Alivia, and father, Richie. Elaine, Aubrey and Aimee shared more details of Ashley’s life with Regan while they sat together and laughed and cried.
A bond was deepened, a connection made, and a new “family” formed through the gift of organ donation. Ashley was an advocate for organ donation, and her last gift was donating not only her liver but her spunk and zeal for life as she truly gave life to Myka Joy.