HOWLAND - A Deer Creek Lane couple is calling their firstborn a ''miracle baby'' considering the medical obstacles they encountered after getting married in 2005.
''The doctors were upset with me at first when they found out I was pregnant,'' said Valentheia Alveranga, a liver transplant recipient in 2010.
''I remained confident, though, despite them telling me I was high risk. They said the baby would be premature - maybe 5 pounds. They said I might lose the baby, or I might not survive myself,'' she said Wednesday, while holding onto to her perfectly healthy daughter, Amodria Danielle-Louise, who was born at St. Elizabeth Health Center at 9:59 a.m. Aug. 1. She weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces.
Valentheia and Richard Alveranga are shown with their newborn daughter, Amodria Danielle-Louise. The couple had the baby Aug. 1, a little more than two years after Richard donated about 70 percent of his liver to his wife.
Tribune Chronicle / Christopher Bobby
Valentheia beat the odds once before after her husband, Richard, was found to be a suitable liver donor. He gave up almost 70 percent of his liver, which was transplanted in his wife at Cleveland Clinic after she was found to have a chronic liver disease that was considered terminal.
The procedure was rare in that a spouse rather than a blood relative or a deceased organ donor made the donation. And Valentheia was nowhere close to the top of a donor list while her health was failing.
Since the procedure took place Feb. 15, 2010, Jamaican-born Richard, who was raised in New York, considered it a Valentine's Day gift of love.
After the transplant, Richard, 34, was hospitalized for a week in a room down the hall from his wife, who had undergone 20 hours of surgery. His liver regenerated itself and literally grew back more than 100 percent within a month.
The day he was being released from the clinic, his wife developed blood clots and was rejecting the liver until a team of physicians huddled and pulled her through.
''I thought we had lost her for a while there,'' said Richard, a corrections officer for the state who admits keeping a written ''goal list.''
Besides conquering the transplant ordeal, he said having a family was another accomplishment on his list.
With his wife on a lifetime regiment of medication that amounts to eight pills twice a day, the couple remained optimistic.
''Both before and after the transplant, doctors advised me not to get pregnant, at least for a while. They really wanted me to wait because they had so little experience with a pregnancy involving a liver recipient,'' said Valentheia.
''It was just the fear of the unknown. But everything they thought would go wrong, didn't,'' said the 33-year-old Valentheia, who is finishing up a psychology degree with an online university and plans to someday enter the field of social work.
''I would like to work with families and children and continue working with hospitals,'' she said, adding that she will always continue her volunteer work with Lifebanc, an organization that fosters and promotes transplant procedures.
The couple met in 2002 in a New York City elevator and married three years later in St. James Church of God in Christ in Warren, founded by Valentheia's grandfather.
Soon after their honeymoon in 2005, Valentheia started feeling dizzy and nauseated, leading to the discovery of her liver problem.
In the meantime, the couple bought their home here, encountering a host of problems with the structure they describe as a type of ''money pit.'' Improvements were gradually made over time and between trips to the clinic in Cleveland.
But the couple keeps pursuing their dreams, ready to tackle the next item on the list.