Sean Kelley, a father in New York, did not think twice about losing weight so he could donate a portion of his liver to his infant son and save his life.
Kelley, who works as a professor, lives in West Almond with his wife, Josie, and their seven children–Dylan, 19; Meara, 11; Christina, 11; Tristan, 5; Asher, 3; and 1-year-old twins Silas and Sawyer–according to Good Morning America on Jan. 10.
Three of their children–Tristan, Meara and Sawyer–have Alagille syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the liver, heart and other parts of the body, as per the Genetics Home Reference of the US National Library of Medicine. The syndrome may damage the liver and is also associated with several heart problems, which usually become evident in early childhood or infancy.
“You want to see them thrive. You want to see them happy,” Kelley said in the report. “You want to give them every chance to succeed in life that you can.”
A liver transplant would be lifesaving for Sawyer as it would make him able to battle the disorder. According to Dr. George Mazariegos, chief of pediatric transplantation at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, a liver transplant was necessary for Sawyer since his liver had to compensate.
“Even at this early age, just over a year old, he really could not survive more than a month without a liver transplant,” Dr. Mazariegos said in the report.
Kelley and his wife worked with UPMC, and also shared their story with other people, in hopes of finding someone who would be willing to help them. Kelley himself was not sure if he would be a match for Sawyer, but finding it out would mean losing 40 pounds so he could undergo assessments and tests at the hospital.
Kelley wasted no time and began his weight loss journey in August 2019, tracking his calories and working out as much as he could.
“People are wanting to do this,” he said. “There’s no reason that I can’t get down to the weight that I need to see if I could be a match as well.”
During those times, he had the support and encouragement of his wife to keep him on track.
“She kept telling me that if I kept eating right and exercising I would get my ultimate goal, and it didn’t matter if I lost 2 pounds this week or 3 the next, I just need to keep working hard…,” he said.
Good news was what awaited Kelley at the end of his goal. According to the report, he was at work when he got a call that made his day perhaps one of his life’s happiest.
“It was pretty overwhelming…,” he said. “I had to literally sit down and just kind of take a few minutes.”
On Dec. 19, Kelley and Sawyer underwent a successful transplant surgery, with the father and son recovering smoothly weeks after the surgery. As per Kelley, they are fortunate to have undergone the liver transplant and he hopes to encourage and educate others about the impact living donors have on people’s lives. /ra
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