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What's Up Magazine

When Pigs Fly

Jan 26, 2011 09:57PM ● By Anonymous

Shortly after birth, Jennifer Elizabeth Cooke Rinehart was diagnosed with biliary atresia, or a blockage of critical bile ducts in and around the liver. The blockage impedes excretion, and the acidity of the bile corrodes and destroys the liver structure. The diagnosis is very rare: only about one in every 15,000-20,000 babies is born without functional bile ducts. She was estimated to live no longer than a year and a half.

Against all odds, she grew past infancy to become a toddler, a child, and then a teenager. Through surgeries and infections, dietary restrictions and external drainage bags, chronic jaundice and malnourishment, Jennifer powered on until a miraculous liver transplant at 18 finally put an end to her precarious state of living.

When Pigs Fly is dually written by Jennifer and her mother, Gretchen Cooke, two first-person accounts of a journey marked by heart-wrenching memories and challenges. Gretchen recounts the constant fear and overwhelming protectiveness she felt for Jennifer all throughout her childhood, while Jennifer recalls the isolation and embarrassment she felt as she grew up with the devastating diagnosis.

Jennifer Cooke Rinehart is now thirty-eight years old and in excellent health. She is married with a beautiful and perfectly healthy four-year old. Her story is one of success; one of determination and perseverance when all hope seems lost.