“The reality of us celebrating as a family of three instead of a family of four was so terrifyingly close this year,” Serena said of her son’s sickness leading up to transplant. “But instead, I have this amazing, perfect addition to our family who is able to celebrate with us.
“He’s not in pain this year. We’re not cooped up in a hospital. He’s not getting pokes every single day. We are home, we are healthy, we are safe, and importantly, we are together. And that just means everything to my family.”
The Kansas family said Ezra was listed the same day they came to Omaha for his transplant evaluation because he was so sick. Ezra was just one day shy of five months old the day he was listed for his liver transplant.
Ezra was born with more than 100 hemangiomas on his body, including on his liver. A hemangioma is a noncancerous tumor made up of blood vessels that can occur throughout the body, including in skin, muscle, bone and internal organs, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
“The doctors warned us that they could not let us go home until he received a transplant because he was so sick,” Serena said.
Ezra’s liver kept getting worse and worse despite medicine helping the other small hemangiomas shrink. He spent his entire life sick.
“He would have these terrifying drops in blood sugar,” Serena said, “his worst dropping him to levels of 19 and a temperature of 91. I was so scared that he’d finally have a blood sugar drop so severe it would be the one that takes him away from us before we could get a donor.”
After coming to Omaha, Ezra was listed just three days before receiving his transplant.
Since then, Ezra has become very active and loves playing with his older brother, reading books and going outside to play.
“Ezra is silly, caring, and mischievous,” Serena said. “He is our little wild child.”
After transplant, Serena says her family is now enjoying a sense of normalcy.
We are not on our toes scared and worried, wondering what else could be going wrong in his little body,” Serena said. “Even going straight from transplant to a pandemic, there is still a sense of peace we didn’t get to experience in the first five months of his life.”
Serena added that she and her family think of Ezra’s donor every day. She doesn’t know who the donor was, only that the donor was a baby.
“This donor changed our lives forever,” Serena said. “This donor’s family impacted our life by giving us such a selfless gift. They made a decision, at the absolute hardest time in their lives, to save our son.
“Out of their grief, their sorrow, their pain, they managed to think of others. They have given my son opportunities he would not have had. Their gift of life will allow my son to have his first steps, one day his first days of school, to have his first love. They gave us absolutely everything.”
Serena also said she knows she will one day be reunited with her son’s donor.
“I know one day,” Serena said, “when this life is over and we are on to our next, I will see his organ donor there behind the pearly gates, and I’m just going to give them the biggest hug.”