Three hours before media commentator Wajahat Ali was set to give a TED Talk about why more people should have children, he got the diagnosis: The bumps on his 2-year-old daughter’s liver were signs of Stage 4 cancer.
So instead of getting on a plane back to D.C., Ali gave a crowd in Vancouver his planned speech about why more people should have children. Then he shared Nusayba’s diagnosis, and the audience gasped. Despite everything, Ali told them, he and his wife thought having kids was “the best thing that we’ve ever done.”
In a series of tweets he shared Wednesday, Ali wrote that Nusayba, now 3, had successfully undergone a liver transplant and was recovering. She had awakened after the surgery, said a few words to her parents and gone back to sleep, Ali wrote. She will recover in the hospital for a week or two.
One of the first questions the anonymous liver donor asked after waking up from surgery was when they could donate blood again, Ali wrote.
“I told the donor’s family my life belongs to them and begged them to tell me how I can repay them,” Ali wrote. “They just said to pray for the donor, their family member, and they wanted Nusayba to live a long, healthy life. There’s still much goodness in the world. Don’t lose hope, ever.”
There had been a setback before the transplant: The surgery was scheduled with a different donor, but the doctor discovered a last-minute complication. The procedure was too high-risk, and the family had to scramble to find a new donor.
It was, Ali told CNN, a “gut punch.” Nusayba, who loves boba tea, Dippin’ Dots and going down playground slides, already had lost her hair and undergone eight rounds of chemotherapy. If the transplant had to be rescheduled, Ali told CNN, she would have to suffer through yet another round.
More than 500 people, most of whom were strangers, eventually applied to be liver donors for Nusayba. Doctors found a match and went forward with the transplant.
Before her surgery, Ali’s family showed Nusayba a pink stuffed bunny with bandages and IV lines as an example of what she would look like after the transplant. But, Ali tweeted, the real Nusayba is much cuter.
“She’s alive & recovering,” Ali wrote. “My life is complete.”
Our son Ibrahim has been the sweetest, most thoughtful older brother. Nusayba has a second chance at life thanks to this donor. This bunny was used to show her what she’d look like after the transplant but she’s much cuter. She’s alive & recovering. My life is complete.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) September 25, 2019