A Sunnyslope High School senior is a shining example of overcoming tremendous obstacles with the love and support of her family members, friends and the campus community.
In 2019 the Morkert family received shattering news that Avery, an active varsity volleyball player, had life-threatening diseases – Autoimmune Hepatitis, PSC (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis) and Ulcerative Colitis. Her mother, Teri Morkert, said the diagnoses changed their family’s lives forever. They faced many challenging days, knowing that Avery would need a liver transplant. Avery’s perseverance did not waiver as she continued to play volleyball for Sunnyslope High and a club team, maintained her grades, hung out with her friends, stayed positive and took comfort in her faith.
She was hospitalized several times throughout the last year and a half, then in December 2020 she was put on the liver transplant list. Her family received a call on March 16 saying a liver was available. Just one day later Avery received a liver transplant. While the days after the surgery were grim and difficult, Avery’s grit and desire for a full life pulled her through the challenging time, Teri said. She came home on March 25, which her friends celebrated with a drive-by street parade.
Her recovery has been remarkable and she is thriving, Teri said. Avery is student body vice president at Sunnyslope High, where she still plays varsity volleyball. Over the summer she works at a camp for children and young adults with disabilities and medical conditions. Teri said while Avery has experienced ups and downs since receiving the transplant, most days are good.
“Our family has so much to be grateful for this November,” Teri said. “We are first and foremost grateful for organ donors. Without organ donors, Avery would not have had a second chance at life. We are grateful for Phoenix Children’s Hospital for all the wonderful doctors and surgeons. We are grateful for Sunnyslope High School for wonderful teachers and administration that have been accommodating and helpful every step of the way. We are thankful for all the support and prayers of family and friends.”
The family also is grateful to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), which helps families financially with organ transplants.