The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 17, 2011

Teen shares liver with cousin

— Ericca Cadwallader of Portage celebrated her 19th birthday Monday in a Pittsburgh hospital.

On Friday, the teen gave part of her liver to her 5-year-old cousin and is recovering following her surgery at UPMC Montefiore Hospital.

Her little cousin is recovering as well, at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.

For Ericca, that’s all that matters.

Having to celebrate her birthday cake in a hospital room is a small price to pay.

“The first words out of her mouth after the surgery were ‘Mom, did I save his life?’ ” Sherry Cadwallader recalled.

Events that led to the operation happened quickly.

Until two weeks ago, Andrew Davis, the only son of Robin and Wes Davis of Portage, was a healthy child.

According to his aunt, the child became ill after participating in a wrestling match at school.

“His eyes were all yellow,” she said.

The boy’s parents took the child to an urgent-care center, but were told it was probably a virus and sent home.

In the next few days, they visited their pediatrician and Altoona Hospital.

“His liver function was a little elevated, but they thought that could be from a virus,” Cadwallader said.

“The poor guy had three or four days in a row of needles.”

After several days of watching their child get progressively more yellow, the parents got in touch with Children’s Hospital.

It was still considered a viral problem, but after two trips to Pittsburgh, Andrew was admitted to the hospital.

“They didn’t know what was going on,” his aunt said. “They considered him stable, but he was yellow.

“He just turned yellow.”

A transplant team was called in – just in case.

“As soon as Ericca heard they were talking transplant, she was wondering who could be used for a donor,” Cadwallader said.

One by one all of the little boy’s relatives were ruled out.

“That left Ericca,” her mother said.

Although everyone hoped it would not be necessary, the teen was tested.

“She gave 19 tubes of blood, had chest X-ray, scans, talked to social workers,” her mother said.

She was a match.

In the meantime, things were not going well for her little cousin.

“Andy was put in intensive care.

“He went downhill really quickly,” his aunt said.

For Ericca, there was no question what she would do.

“There was no thinking involved,” she said. “It was just something I knew I was going to do.”

Although just 18, it was her choice, her mother said.

“She had no reservations. She was absolutely ready to do it.”

Sherry Cadwallader said things happened very quickly, and although her daughter was confident, she was not that sure.

“I was afraid,” she said.

The surgery took eight hours but went smoothly and Ron and Sherry Cadwallader look forward to taking their daughter home in a few days.

Ericca said it was not as bad as she had anticipated.

“I thought I would be in a lot of pain,” she said.

The road to recovery will go a little slower for Andrew, but he also is doing well.

“His color is all back to normal,” his aunt said, but added that doctors still do not know what happened to the little boy.

“We may never know.”

The Cadwalladers could not be more proud of their daughter.

“She absolutely saved his life,” Sherry Cadwallader said.

“His liver was 60 percent gone. He would probably not have made it through the weekend.

“It’s been a very emotional couple of days.”

She calls her daughter “amazing” and said the girl is in college doing prerequisite work to become a nurse.

“She is an EMT and a firefighter with Portage,” her mother said.

Ericca Cadwallader looks forward to getting back to her busy life and has no regrets for donating a piece of herself to the little boy she has babysat for since his birth.

“Just knowing that he is going to get better makes it worth it,” she said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • District Deaths April 21, 2014

    April 20, 2014

  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads