By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A mother and daughter now share a special bond. In March, they were forever linked by a liver transplant.

Three-year-old Peri Erickson spent three years suffering with the side effects of a rare liver disease. Now, her doctor says “the sky’s the limit” for Peri thanks to her mom, Claire Erickson.

The Erickson’s live in Red Lodge, Montana. They traveled to Aurora for the lifesaving surgery.

“A little bit of pain is absolutely worth it,” said Claire.

Peri and Claire Erickson with CBS4’s Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

Peri was born with a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts called biliary atresia. At 24 days old, she had surgery at Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Kasai procedure, that attached her small intestine directly to her liver. Her parents say complications, including internal bleeding, kept Peri coming back to Children’s at least 20 times. Three of those times she had to be airlifted.

“We were at the point where she was going to turn a corner really for the worse,” explained Claire.

Peri Erickson (credit: Erickson family)

On March 21, at the University of Colorado Hospital, Chief of Transplant Surgery Dr. Elizabeth Pomfret removed 20 percent of Claire’s liver.

“She gave her child life again,” said Pomfret.

The organ was rushed across the street to Children’s where the surgical director of Children’s Transplant Program, Dr. Michael Wachs, gave it to Peri.

Peri Erickson (credit: Erickson family)

“I expect that she’ll be able to live a normal lifespan and really do whatever she wants to do,” said Wachs.

“She was a light before; she’s special and now she’s just glowing. I think she feels so much better,” said Justin Erickson, Peri’s father.

“You can just see the vitality coming back into her,” added Claire.

Justin Erickson with Peri (credit: CBS)

In a few weeks, Peri should be able to head for home in Montana. She will come back for checkups but, if things go well with her new liver, she’ll eventually be home free.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help the Ericksons’ pay for travel to Colorado and other expenses.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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