A case for organ donation
summit daily news
Ten-year-old Wyatt Brownson’s rare liver disease, biliary atresia, was diagnosed when he was about 8-weeks-old.
The fatal illness, in which the bile ducts close and trap bile in the liver, affects only one in every 20,000 babies born, according to Brownson’s grandmother, Carol Burger, who lives in Frisco. At about 12-weeks of age, Brownson underwent major surgery to construct bile duct from bits of his small intestine, a procedure that saves some children from needing a full liver transplant later on.
“There’s about a 25 percent chance that you won’t need a transplant, and he wasn’t in that group,” said Brownson’s father, Eric Brownson, who owns the Summit County-based business Sweet Homes of Colorado. The family lives in Lakewood.
By mid-February of this year, Wyatt was admitted to the hospital with “acute, near 100-percent liver failure,” Eric Brownson said. He waited three months – “a fairly trying three months” – before word came in that a liver had been found.
Wyatt, who said he was nervous and scared before the surgery, waved to his parents as he went in, and told them that he’d be okay, Burger said.
“The day before, members of the surgical team had flown to another state to harvest parts from a donor,” Burger said. “Parents, in their shock and excruciating grief, realized that their child could not live. With grace and courage and selfless consideration they were able to permit their child to be an organ donor so others could live.”
That little child that Wyatt’s new liver came from directly saved the life of eight or nine children, Eric Brownson said. “Some incredible number of people were affected by that act of generosity.”
Wyatt’s mother, Dot Brownson, said it’s hard to put such a big and emotional experience into words.
“What a selfless act, the ultimate gift,” she said. “(Wyatt’s) doing amazingly well. It feels like a miracle.”
So well in fact that the family is hoping he can soon partake in baseball and skiing, Eric Brownson said.
Wyatt’s story is important to share in order to bring attention to organ donation, as well as the “incredibly skilled doctors and all of the staff at the Denver Children’s Hospital complex,” Burger said.
She recommends that people donate to the hospital if they can, and to “please, please consider signing up to be an organ donor.”
“Encourage family members and friends to do the same. This can be done through your driver’s license or on the Internet. There is even a donor license plate you can place on your vehicle,” Burger said.
It’s something Wyatt’s parents are huge advocates of as well.
“It’s something that everybody should be aware of,” Eric Brownson said. “If you are able to see the silver lining, it’s an amazing gift.”
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