Family, friends help Voorheesville student fight liver failure

On Tuesday, May 29, Stephanie Pincheon, a mother of three boys from Voorheesville, met her own mother at a halfway point to pick up her son Jimmy, 12, who had spent Memorial Day weekend at his grandmother's.

When Pincheon first saw her son that day, he seemed playful and in good spirits as usual. However, Jimmy wears glasses occasionally, and when she asked him to take them off, she noticed the whites of his eyes were a strange yellow color. Slightly alarmed, Pincheon asked if Jimmy or Grandma had noticed them throughout the weekend, but neither of them had.

Although she didn't think the strange color of her son's eyes was anything too serious, she still took him to Albany Medical Center.

I figured with him being there for the entire weekend and mowing the lawn and what not, he probably just had an allergy and needed some eye drops, she said.

However, doctors at Albany Med suspected there was a bigger problem. At first, Jimmy had only shown small signs of jaundice, the yellowing of skin and eyes due to high levels of bile in the blood, yet by Thursday, according to Pincheon, his skin was almost fluorescent yellow in color.

After several blood tests, they concluded that he had liver failure. Though they didn't know exactly why Jimmy's liver was failing, they suspected he had contracted a virus, such as Hepatitis B or C, which can cause liver failure.

Yet Jimmy didn't test positive for any of these, and his INR, a measurement of how long it takes a patient's blood to clot, was off the charts.

Whatever the cause was, Jimmy's liver was failing, and he needed to be transferred to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City immediately, where more resources could treat his condition.

Nearly two months later, still a patient at Mt. Sinai, Jimmy, who friends describe as loyal, cheerful, and funny, is supposed to be attending seventh grade at Voorheesville Middle School this fall. However, his situation is unique, for better or for worse. According to Pincheon, Jimmy is not well enough to live outside the hospital, but he is also not sick enough to qualify for a liver transplant, because there are patients who are sicker than he and further up on the donor list.

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