Catherine Herridge's Challenge

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By the time you receive this blog — or read it — we will be back "on the road" again. We arrived back on the East Coast from Los Angeles on Saturday night and our flight this morning was 6:30 a.m ET. I have a very important story to cover today about one of my colleagues, FOX News correspondent Catherine Herridge and her family.

I am proud to be Catherine Herridge's colleague — what she is going to do in the next 24 hours is extremely difficult, but she is determined. She and her husband have an infant son — Peter — who is now about 3 or 4 months old. He needs a liver. He has been on the liver transplant list for his entire life of 3 or 4 months. He is failing to the point where he cannot wait any longer. He is sure to die if he does not get it soon... very soon. His mother, Catherine, our colleague at FOX, is now going to be his donor. Surgery begins within 24 hours of you reading this blog.

Peter's parents admitted their tiny baby to the Pittsburgh hospital on Sunday so that he could be prepared for his mother's liver. At one minute after midnight tonight, Catherine will be admitted to the hospital. For insurance reasons, she could not be admitted today when her infant son was. She must wait until "tomorrow" — one minute after midnight.

Tomorrow the surgery begins very early. I am told that the surgery for each will be about 11 hours. A portion of Catherine's liver will be removed in one operating room and then taken to another operating room to be transplanted into her tiny son. Of course all surgery has a risk and this one does, too. I suppose because it is a colleague, I am very nervous and very worried. I am told that there has been great success with this surgery and I remind myself all the time of that fact.

This medical problem has been dogging all of us at FOX since Peter was born a few months ago. We had all hoped it would be resolved short of this surgery. It has not. Catherine came into my office last week to tell me that time had run out to wait for a liver and that she would be doing this. Of course the conversation was a difficult one but also an inspiring one. Catherine is determined to have her son live and is doing what every mother would do. This is a life or death decision.

Catherine and I talked about how many families go through a medical crisis like this and how difficult it is. The emotional toll can't be expressed in words. Imagine the pain of wanting a liver for your baby knowing that it meant some other family was losing a baby.

Catherine and I talked and talked about what families go through. It occurred to us that maybe — just maybe — we could try and turn around the fear and anxiety for both her and other families by telling you about it and by televising a segment about this family, a FOX family and the huge advancements in science. American medicine is truly remarkable: things can be done that seem impossible to those of us unschooled in it.

Catherine and her husband weighed the pros and cons of us doing a story on her family and what they are facing — the cons being the need for privacy at what could be a life or death time for their family and the pros being the chance to inspire other American families facing a medical crisis and to show the truly remarkable aspects about medicine. Catherine and her husband talked about it and then decided that the chance to inspire others and highlight American advancements in medicine was important. As you might imagine, during this time they have met many others who are in the same difficult position they are. Plus, the chance to highlight all the great things the Pittsburgh hospital has done is also important to them.

Hence I am headed to Pittsburgh with the hope that we can tell you an inspiring story, not one that will bring you down. We want to inspire you and dazzle you with this story of love and science. We don't want to depress you. Remember, Catherine and her husband are feeling determined right now. They are an important mission of love. Behind the scenes, and without Catherine, we have discussed what we will do if the surgery turns out differently than we are expecting and hoping and we have not made any decisions. But bottom line is that Catherine is determined and so are we.

Here are some facts that make me feel confidant about the surgery/transplant:

In this hospital they have been doing pediatric transplants since 1981... they have done more than 1000... the hospital (UPMC Medical Center) maintains a 93 percent survival rate... this hospital performed world's first pediatric liver transplant... the liver is the only solid organ that has the capacity to grow back to its full size after being "resected"... and Catherine is very healthy and strong per my observation.

Now to switch gears a bit:

On Friday we met actress Darryl Hannah. She is part of a project to save some farmland in South Central Los Angeles for low-income farmers. If you watched our show Friday night, you watched our interview with her. As an aside — and to the extent you have any curiosity of what she is really like — she was very "normal," meaning she was extremely nice, and very easy to talk to. Whether you agree with her cause or not, I am sure you would like her. I have posted pics today from our "walk and talk" with Darryl.

After our show Friday, we went back to the hotel. Who did we run into? "American Idol's" Taylor Hicks! Do you wonder what he is like? He was extremely gracious... and "normal" — meaning that like Darryl Hannah, he was extremely nice and approachable. His offstage graciousness is sure to add to the great success he will have. He is very charming.

I posted pictures of the murals on the wall at the California prison on Friday... and got lots of e-mails in response:

E-mail No. 1

Hi Greta,
Wow — awesome — unbelievable — who is this guy, what did he allegedly do and why has he obviously been there so long without a trial?
Drea DeMilo
Miami Beach, FL

E-mail No. 2

Enjoyed the L.A. inmate murals. Such talent should be greatly encouraged. Maybe these folks could enter another line of work besides what got them into jail in the first place. I wonder if anyone has thought of a calendar with these murals? Maybe the proceeds could go to the children of incarcerated parents.
PA Jones
Farmington, NM

E-mail No. 3

How does someone sleep at night knowing they are charging the fifth poorest community in the country $16m for a parcel of land they bought for $5.1m?
How WRONG is that?! Families feed their children off the farming of that land — where is the State of CA?!
Thankfully Daryl Hannah and others are calling attention to such injustice! Heartbreaking!
Dallas, TX

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