Gibson Brown was born in 2013 with biliary atresia, a rare disease with no known cause that deteriorates an infant’s bile ducts and liver. Within the first few months of his life, Gibson received a lifesaving liver transplant. After enduring a roller coaster of hospitalizations and medical emergencies, his family turned to Help Hope Live to offset the many out-of-pocket costs of their son’s lifesaving care.
Gibson is now 5 years old and thriving. His mother, Christa, shares how their family’s life was forever changed by organ donation.
“Gibson started life in the NICU with blood sugar and breathing issues. As those issues resolved, he became jaundiced. He went under the blue lights and was finally able to come home at one week old.
At eight weeks, it became obvious his jaundice was still there, and it wasn’t just newborn jaundice. After several tests and a biopsy, Gibson was diagnosed with biliary atresia. There’s no known cause for biliary atresia and there’s no cure. He underwent an 8-hour surgery called the Kasai to delay the potential need for a liver transplant. He was in the PICU for over two weeks with a total of almost one month in the hospital for this surgery.
At 5 months old, he developed ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen) that affected his breathing. His liver lab results were indicating he was in liver failure. Gibson was medically transferred from our local hospital in Oregon to the best pediatric liver transplant hospital on the West Coast. He was evaluated for transplant and quickly joined the liver transplant waiting list.
After one day of being listed, we got “the call”. The transplant fellow walked into Gibson’s room and told us about the opportunity. We were stunned. We went through a lot of emotions at once: happy because Gibson was going to get a second chance, but sad because this meant another family had just gone through our worst fear, losing their baby.
The nurse of the liver transplant floor calmed us by reminding us the other child was already on the path to pass regardless of our sons need for transplant. She told us it was an amazing gift the parents were able to give: the hope that their child would be able to save so many other children.
Gibson was so speedy to recover after transplant that the doctors and staff had to rush through our discharge information in one day! He was only in the hospital for one week. We were released to the Ronald McDonald House just a mile from the hospital. Gibson had biweekly labs and clinic visits. We all got use to giving him meds and tube feedings to help him recover.
One month post-transplant, Gibson started the morning vomiting up his tube. He continued crying all day and was only calmed by riding in his stroller. By the evening, it was clear he wasn’t getting better.
We took him to the ER where they gave him IV fluids and tried to get his evening medicine to stay down. The next morning, Gibson had an MRI and emergency surgery. The transplant had caused adhesions in his bowels that had closed off part of his bowel and it was almost dead. The surgeon that saved his life with his transplant saved it again by removing these adhesions. He told us we got Gibson there in perfect timing as the bowel was able to refresh with blood immediately after he removed the adhesions.
Today, Gibson is doing very well. He started pre-K in September 2017 and is growing and learning so much. His recovery is a work in progress.
It took us a while to write to Gibson’s donor family. When we finally did we were met with a story of a beautiful baby girl, Kortryna, who had a triangulation of veins in her brain. Her parents were very happy to hear Gibson was doing so well and that their daughter had saved his life.”
Gibson’s family continues to fundraise with Help Hope Live for post-transplant necessities, including immunosuppressant medication costs that have doubled since his transplant. Keep up with his journey at helphopelive.org and enjoy Touched By Transplant tales all April long!Written by Emily Progin