PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) --A little boy, not even 2 years old, is recovering from a liver transplant at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. His family is able to be close to him, thanks to the nearby Ronald McDonald House.
The family lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, but they needed a world class pediatric hospital to save their child; and, a place to stay. I had the privilege of meeting the family and learning about the incredible team effort to save baby Kanoa.
We met 21-month-old Kanoa Manners for just a couple of minutes at the pediatric intensive care unit, where he was happy to see mom and dad.
"He loves Elmo, he loves stuffed animals," said his mother Anuhea Kamakele.
Kanoa has had a tough time in his short life. But, as his parents will tell you, he is a fighter.
Kanoa had a liver transplant just seven days before we saw him, at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. He had his first surgery for health problems when he was only 2-months-old. That happened where the family lives, in Honolulu.
"That procedure failed, so the next option was transplant," said his mother. "I was devastated. I mean, it's your baby, you know? You want them to grow up to be healthy and strong and then you hear that news."
Mom and dad decided Kanoa's best chance for a donor was for the family to relocate to be near the hospital in January 2016. They're living at the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford.
Kanoa's parents, Anuhea and Pukaua Manners, were not a match for Kanoa. They weren't the right blood type.
A family member, a mother of two young boys, volunteered. Liana Kuhia Arakaki was teaching hula to Anuhaya and is the wife of Pukaua's brother.
"When my sister-in-law found out what blood type she was, immediately she came to us and she said, 'I would like to help Kanoa,'" said Anuhea.
She went onto explain, "They took a piece of her liver and gave it to baby Kanoa. And they removed his whole liver, which is all the bad, and then put in her piece."
The donor's family also relocated to save baby Kanoa. And they're living in a nearby motel.
"I can't thank them, there are no words to describe what they're doing for my son," said Pukaua.
"I think he'll do great and will be back in Hawaii soon enough," said Dr. Deborah Franzon.
Kanoa's recovery will take several months and his family is so grateful to be staying at Ronald McDonald House.
Anuhea: "This place is really amazing."
Pukaua: "Not only is the place amazing, the staff is amazing."
Anuhea: "They're so kind."
And they will be among the first families to move into the new house, scheduled to open in May. The two-year project is almost finished.
"The generosity people have shown has really created this home away from home," said Ronald McDonald House Stanford CEO Annette Eros. "I think when the families walk in the door they're going to feel that embrace from the community, the second they walk in and the second they walk in here in the rooms because they're going to know that somebody cared about them that made this happen."
Eros says the goal was to raise $48.5 million and they're almost there. They need to raise another $2.5 million. They're hoping to do that by May, before the families move in. Right now, there are 47 families. The expansion means another 67 families will have a home away from home.
Click here for details on Kanoa's GoFundMe page, and click here for details on the Ronald McDonald House.