Groundbreaking surgery at Riley gives Vermont teen a second chance at life

Indianapolis

A 17 year old Vermont teen is one step closer to returning home after a life saving procedure at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

Mariah Bowman has been at Riley for nearly 5 months.

She's been recovering after recieving a multi-organ and abdominal wall transplant.

Mariah suffered from a rare disease that affects her skin and muscles, and it damaged many of her organs that help her digest food.

Her condition was so bad, it threated her life, and she hasn't been able to eat anything for 4 years.

Mariah has been living off a feeding tube that's been keeping her alive.

After her condition worsened, she was sent to Riley in July where a groundbreaking surgery here in Indiana saved her life.

"We do more of these transplants than anyone in the country. Mariah is a 17 year old and a very nice person and she has a lot of things she wants to do," said Doctor Rodrigo Vianna, Mariah's transplant surgon.

Now, Mariah can eat food and she's craving her mother's stuffing. 

With rehabilitation and medication, Mariah will be able to lead a very normal life.

"After the transplant and being able to eat, I actually feel normal and I'm really glad that I came to Riley because now I can actually start being a normal kid," said Mariah.

"Before, she couldn't go to a restaurant and eat, go to a movie theater because of the smell of popcorn bothered because she loved popcorn, but she could never eat it," said Kerry Bowman, Mariah's Mother.

The Bowmans say words cannot describe the care they recieved at Riley and the amazing work done by its doctors and nurses.

"I just can't thank the nurses and doctors and the surgeons. Everybody here is great! Everybody here is awesome,"

Mariah will be released from the hospital this week.

They will live in an apartment near Riley as Mariah adjusts to life outside the hospital.

If all goes well, the family will return to Vermont just in time for Christmas.

Mariah's abdominal transplant surgery was the first of its kind performed here in Indiana.

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