PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Watching her play, you would never know 3-year-old Rachel Thomas has been through.

When she was born, she was diagnosed with a rare liver disease.

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After countless trips to the hospital and surgery to connect her liver and intestines, some issues continued.

“There are those moments you just break down, but you just got to push through,” said Rachel’s father John Thomas. “You don’t have a choice.”

Doctors determined that Rachel needed a liver transplant. John stepped in and gave his daughter a quarter of his liver.

The June 2 transplant went well and Rachel was all smiles when she was released from Children’s Hospital less than two weeks after the operation.

“I’m amazed at how fast she’s recovered,” said Thomas. “She got out of the hospital after only nine days, when we were told anywhere from around a month to possibly up to three months. In that case, she would still be in there now.”

“She’ll always need to be on the medications,” her mother Kristi Thomas said. “She always has the risk of going into rejection and needing to be hospitalized and then the medications make her more susceptible to illness.”

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Rachel still has a long road ahead. And although insurance covers some transplant costs, the expenses add up fast, especially because John had to take six weeks off from work for his own recovery.

The Thomas family of Cecil Township has received support from family and friends. And now the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, or COTA, is helping to set up fundraisers.

The goal is to raise 30,000.

“I saw her the day that she came out of the surgery while she was in the ICU,” said Tawney Roddy of COTA. “And to just have that vision of her in the bed and then seeing her now is incredible.”

For more information, visit: cotaforrachelt.com.

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