One year later: Niles liver donor, recipient recovering well

Jamie was in critical condition when Trumbull County Children Services made the request for a liver transplant

David Denovchek and Jamie, One year later, Niles liver donor and recipient both recovering well.


NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – It has been more than a year since Trumbull County Children Services made a plea, asking for help saving a child in their care who was battling a debilitating liver condition.

Now, 5-year-old Jamie is looking and feeling much better after receiving a liver transplant to save her life.

“She’s doing wonderful. She is pretty much recovered. Now she’s on maintenance as far as her medication. The meds have been reduced significantly from when she came out of the hospital,” said Marilyn Pape, department manager at Trumbull County Children Services.

Her overall health is improving, too. The jaundice is gone, her belly has slimmed down, her bones are getting stronger, the feeding tube came out, and she has been approved to start school this fall.

Pape said going to school is a huge step for Jamie, who has never been in that type of setting before.

She has David Denovchek to thank. The Niles man responded to a request for liver donors for Jamie, going under the knife to help a child he never met.

Denovchek said he wouldn’t describe himself as a hero, however.

“I’m never gonna use that word to describe myself,” he said, laughing. “I hear it once in awhile, and I just go, ‘No. No. I’m just a guy.'”

Doctors said Denovchek’s liver was a perfect match for Jamie. Seven months after the surgery, the two met for the first time, showing everyone their instant connection.

“It’s moving to the core to just have this little child who is just so bonded to you that has no idea what you did,” Denovchek said.

Denovchek, who is back working as a veterinary technician at All Creatures Animal Hospital, said he feels like he never had the surgery, although every now and again he will have a little bit of pain. He said, though, that he’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

As for his liver, his doctors tell him it’s functioning just fine.

Jamie beat the odds, but now those at Trumbull County Children Services have a new goal, and that’s finding her and her brother, 7-year-old Jeremiah, a new home.

“Before it was, you know, life and death for her. Now that, thankfully, we’re over that hump… Our goal is to get them adopted as soon as possible,” she said.

Those who are interested in adopting a child must meet several requirements. For Jamie, that means parents should be able to provide for her special medical needs and developmental delays.

All adoptive parents must be licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and comply to the department’s adoption guidelines, including:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age to adopt;
  • You may be married, single or divorced and may have other children;
  • You may own or rent your home or apartment, but each child must have their own bed;
  • You must have income sufficient to meet the basic needs of the household;
  • Security clearances, fingerprints, medical exam and psychological exams are required;
  • Adopters must be committed to caring for children, able to accept children as they are and provide support and be a strong role model

To adopt a child, you must complete 36 hours of pre-service training. Trumbull County Children Services offers the pre-service training at least three times per year. Prospective adoptive parents are required to complete and additional three hours of training on agency policies.

You must complete a home study with an assessor, which includes a home safety audit and several interviews, provide a list of references and financial information; and complete a BCI and FBI check and security clearances.

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