It’s a parent’s worst fear—watching your child suffer from a disease from which there is no cure. Unfortunately, this was the case for our family.
When Callum was only a few months old, he was diagnosed with biliary atresia—a rare congenital liver disease that blocks bile flow from the liver to the gallbladder. He spent the first year of his life undergoing multiple tests and treatments. At three months old, he had a Kasai procedure in the hope of allowing enough bile drainage to occur to give this little guy enough time to grow and get stronger so his body could handle a liver transplant—the last hope for his survival.
But when Callum was only a year old, his health began to rapidly decline. He became severely jaundiced, had a swollen abdomen, and had been hospitalized three times for separate incidents of cholangitis. When Callum was only 18 months old, he had reached full liver failure and was put on the transplant list.
On July 3, only a few days after being put on the list, the call my husband and I had anxiously been awaiting finally came: they had found a new liver. My son and I were immediately flown to Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton—where pediatric transplants are performed in Western Canada. A day later, Callum was wheeled into the operating room for what would be a 10 hour surgery.
Today, Callum is a healthy and active little boy. Although he will be on anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life, Callum now has a second chance at living; a life we will always cherish. We will forever be indebted and grateful to our donor family. They gave Callum (and us) a second chance, as without them, he wouldn’t be here today. And while watching our son go through something so terrible at such a young was tough, the experience has made our family stronger than ever and taught us so much.
One of the hardest things was watching our newborn child suffer and feeling hopeless. We hope that by sharing our story, we can bring awareness to the power of organ donation and give other families hope and that more people, like Callum, are given their second chance.
Stories like Callum’s happen every day. Currently, there are 498 patients in BC waiting for life-saving transplants. Sadly, although many British Columbians support organ donation, many aren’t registered.
To register your decision or for more information on organ donation, visit BC Transplant’s website.