After three transplants, 4-year-old's family gets new lease on life
BATON ROUGE - Happening all through the month of April, a call of attention on organ donation. A 4-year-old was one of the many recipients of an invaluable gift because families chose to save a life.
"So we went to bed knowing that he had about two days to live. And that's what they told us and that they'd just make him comfortable at this point,” they're the words Brittany Elliser never wanted to hear. "It was about a 99 percent chance that he had biliary atrisia, which is a rare liver disease."
On Dec. 29, 2014, Brittany and her husband welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Briggs. He started out in this world fighting for his life.
"He immediately had a kasai, which was a surgery to connect the liver to his intestine to drain bile,” Brittany said.
Doctors were hoping the kasai would be enough to give Briggs time to grow and get on a transplant list. But a month later, more bad news came.
"We found out that it didn't work. So we got sent to New Orleans to be listed on the transplant list."
And at five months old, good news finally came. A liver was available.
"He had his first transplant and everything went great, he came off the ventilator, he was sitting up we were holding him and then he had an ultrasound. That ultrasound showed that he had no blood flow coming through his portal veins,” says Brittany.
What was supposed to be a one-hour surgery, turned into 10. Doctors found that Brigg’s donated liver wasn’t working.
"We had gone from such a high high to such a low low. Because we were given this amazing gift, but sometimes things just go wrong," Brittany said. "There was nothing that anyone could do, we knew those doctors were doing everything to make it happen to just try to make it work and it just wasn't working."
Going back on the transplant list, doctors gave Briggs just two days to live. But just in time, the call came in, a second liver was now available.
However, with every peak that life gives, sometimes a valley follows.
"Transplant is hard, it's a hard surgery, and so with that came more complications. And this time, he had what was called primary non-functioning graft. They went in and they thought everything was okay. And everything was okay, but when we got up to the room it wasn't working again. He was immediately listed again on the transplant list."
Lucky for Briggs, third time's a charm. His third transplant was a success.
"Everybody around us just knew that this was going to be the one, he came out and he's been rockin' and rollin' ever since."
At 4 years old, he’s not slowing down. It was all thanks to families like Trinity Hobblet, whose liver got Briggs through his second transplant and sustained him until the third one became available.
"That was probably one of the best days of our lives. To be able to tell that family what their decision means to us is probably something you can't even put into words still. It was their darkest time; they lost their daughter. And they gave our family hope again to not lose our son. So for us, we can never say thank you enough.”
Brittany says it was their faith in God and the love and support of their family that got them through six very difficult months. Now, this family of four is living life to the fullest, and it’s all because three families decided to donate life.
"You get to have this legacy, that you did something great at the end of the day, multiple lives at the end of the day. It's probably the best gift that we could ever receive,” Brittany added.
If you’re interested in becoming a donor, you can register online at Donatelife.net. Or the next time you’re at the DMV, you can ask to have the red heart added to your license to let folks know you’re a donor.
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