Child expected to undergo trachea transplant soon

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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Father grateful for moral and monetary support

Travel arrangements are in place for Hannah Warren to travel from Korea to Illinois, where she’ll receive a synthetic trachea.  — Submitted photo

Weeks after she started walking, Hannah Warren is about to take the biggest step of her life.

She’ll soon be leaving the Korean hospital she’s always called home and boarding a plane to Illinois, where she’ll receive a synthetic trachea.

Hannah was born without one and breathes through a tube. The high-tech device will allow her to breathe on her own.

“It’s going to happen soon, real soon,” says her father Darryl Warren in a Skype interview. “All the stars seem to be lining up for this to happen in the very near future.”

The Paradise native left to teach in Korea more than a decade ago.

He married Young-Mi, a Korean woman, and they started a family.

Hannah is their second child. It didn’t look like she would live when she was born in August 2010.

But she developed a small hole near her esophagus and doctors were able to pump air into her lungs through a tube.

The push to get Hannah a synthetic trachea started almost immediately.

 

The Telegram first reported on the effort in July 2011. There was no timeline in place, but no one thought it would take this long.

But there have been numerous delays, including U.S. regulatory approvals, scheduling conflicts, and Hannah’s recovery from an infection she picked up after surgery to replace a feeding tube earlier this year.

But now — especially since the American and Italian specialists performing the trachea transplant recently visited Hannah in hospital — it appears everything is in place for the procedure to happen soon.

Following the Illinois hospital’s advice, Warren is tight-lipped about exact details.

However, travel arrangements are in place and Warren says he expects his daughter will get the trachea within a month.

Hannah will have lots to learn after the procedure — how to eat, drink and talk.

Warren is excited about being able to teach her that, and at the prospect of establishing a more normal life for his family.

He’s looking forward to the simple things like showing Hannah the bedroom she’ll share with her older sister, Dana.

He’s also anxious to pay a visit to the Seoul hospital where Hannah has been living.

He wants to show staff what his girl looks like without the breathing tube in her mouth.

“It’s going to be a pretty cool moment,” Warren says.

That’s a ways away though.

Before they return to Korea, the surgery needs to happen and be successful. Then the family has to remain in Illinois for a few weeks in case there are complications.

Warren says the ordeal has been tough, but the moral and monetary support they’ve received from Koreans and Canadians — especially his fellow Newfoundlanders — has helped get them though it and make the procedure possible.

People donated tens of thousands and continue to raise funds, with campaigns like one being organized by Westside Charlie’s in Paradise.

They had “Hands for Hannah” wristbands made up and are organizing a walk for her birthday in August.

All proceeds will go into a trust fund.

“Now that it is getting so close it raises your anxiety,” Warren says of the operation. “It’s time for this to happen.”

 

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramSteve

 

Organizations: Illinois hospital, Seoul hospital

Geographic location: Illinois, Korea, U.S.

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