Janitis

My name is Jānis Šalms. When I was a half year old, I was taken to the hospital and the doctors could not diagnose me for a long time. After long effort and with the help of their colleagues from Belgium they arrived at a conclusion that I have a very rare genetic disease, and I am the only one in Latvia with such diagnosis. Only liver transplantation could help me.

My name is Jānis Šalms.

When I was about 6 months old, I was itching all over, and my skin slowly turned yellow. I was taken to the hospital where the doctors could not diagnose me for a long time. After long effort and with the help of their colleagues from Belgium they arrived at a conclusion that I am suffering from progressive congenital intrahepatic cholestasis type 2, chronic liver failure. This is an exceedingly rare genetic disease, and I am the  single patient in Latvia having it. Only liver transplantation could help me, and on 2 February 2011 we went to Hamburg-Eppendorf University Hospital.

I stayed for about 3 months in Hamburg together with my parents. This took so long because they had to find a donor that suits me. First of all my dad was examined, because we have the same blood type, but my dad did not fit due to anatomic reasons. Then the doctors started examining my mum, and, fortunately, mum's results were fine to become a donor. 21 March was our big day - the surgery. The surgery took long, but it was successful both for me and mum.

All the time before surgery and six weeks after surgery we lived in the Ronald McDonald house. This is a house for parents whose children are in the hospital. As renting a flat in Hamburg is very expensive, Ronald McDonald house makes it possible to stay there for a symbolic rental fee (relative to those in Hamburg) up to recovery. Families of various nationalities live in the Ronald McDonald house - from Russia, Germany, Libya, Turkey, Belgium and other countries.

The main sponsors of Ronald McDonald house is the McDonald restaurant chain, but also other donors are attracted so that children and their parents feel better and have some entertainment, too. Each Tuesday, volunteers make breakfast for the tenants of the house, and dinner on Thursdays. It brings people together and encourages making friends with each other. McDonald employees also pleased us arranging a trip to the Tropical House and an ice-hockey game.

I want to say my thank you to doctors who helped me to get well and are still doing that, because recovery takes a long time, and I also thank the Children's Hospital Foundation and my dad's workplace, SIA DT Mobile, and to our relatives and friends for the support, so that I could stay in Hamburg together with my parents all the time!