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Teen waiting for transplant finds unlikely match

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - It's a parent's worst nightmare, to hear a doctor say your child has cancer. Shawna Palmer heard those words when her daughter was just five-years-old.

"The first thing that goes through your mind is that your child's going to die," remembered Palmer.

She added that she and the doctors originally thought the young girl's infections were simply a product of being a child, even if they were getting frequent. As for a slightly concerning bulge in the child's stomach, Palmer said x-rays came back negative and it was labeled a "pot belly."

Then Palmer pushed a little later for another x-ray this time without the protective shield. That's when doctors found a tumor the size of a softball on the child's side.

"We went in for surgery not long after. They did remove it," Palmer went on to say.

Life seemed great for Brianna since her child hood. Her mother said she continued to get positive check ups, that is until this time last year when Brianna kept getting sick.

"She was in full kidney failure," answered Palmer. "You could just see this fear of it's back."

The damage done left the teen with her organs failing. The doctors said she would need a transplant.

"I did not pass the medical evaluation," said Palmer, much to her dismay at the time.

Without her mother as a match, the odds fell to a long shot, but Brianna's step-father still wanted to try.

"There was really anywhere from one-in-100,000 chance to one-in-one million chance that he'd match. Everything kept coming back "this is okay, this is okay, this is okay."

Brianna says she and her sisters don't use the word "step-father," he's simply "dad."

"He tells everyone that now, after the surgery, she's biologically his child because she'll have a piece of him running around inside of her," said Palmer with a grin.

"It's actually really cool because I didn't think he'd be a match," admitted the teen.

Brianna didn't want to be shown, today, but can be seen in a Youtube video she made for "Wish Upon a Hero," a site designed to allow people to help strangers make their wish come true.

Palmer said she'd been on the site after she and her sister started helping others make their dreams a reality. She said she never imagined her daughter ending up on the site, until her sister suggested it.

"It's amazing what I've seen them do."

The response to Brianna's story has taken off. The family has even made bracelets with the phrase, "Prayers for Brianna," on it. A facebook page carries the same slogan.

Palmer said her family is typically a private one, and chose to save their own money rather than make a plea for donations. However, the people at "Wish Upon a Hero," wanted to do more, and the donations are coming in.

Palmer says her family is only seeking the amount that they need to supplement her husband's income while he's recovering from the donor surgery. Palmer says she insists her family won't take anymore than that.

Still, the support comes just in time as Brianna prepares for a series of surgeries that start in November to remove one of her kidneys, which will leave her on dialysis.

Palmer says this is a more dangerous surgery than the transplant because here they are taking organs out unlike the transplant which puts it in.

She went on to say once her daughter is out of this surgery, she must be given the "okay" for the transplant that follows.

Palmer knows this time won't be easy, but it's something this family is ready to take on... together.

To help the Palmer family click the link to the "Prayers for Brianna" page to learn how.


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