Little Allie’ Celebrates New Lease on Life
Little Allie took part in the 23rd Annual University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Pediatric Transplant Picnic reunion on Saturday, Aug. 4, in San Rafael, along with his grateful parents. Now three-and-one-half years old, Allie now lives with his Coast Guard family in Alameda. He was only one month old when his doctors diagnosed him with the “worst-case scenario” of jaundice, biliary atresia.
Allie was living in Texas with his parents, when they noticed that his skin was too yellow and he wasn’t gaining weight. They took him to the doctors who pronounced their frightening diagnosis. They put Allie on several medications; he then underwent a Kasai procedure, a temporary fix for liver disease.
He continued to have problems, though. He was seriously underweight, wearing diapers meant for a five-month-old after his first birthday. The build-up of fluids bloated his stomach. He developed rashes that required steroid treatments, and he needed a feeding tube in order to get sufficient nourishment. The little boy endured numerous hospital admissions to manage his disease. His parents knew that a transplant was probably in his future, but the doctors said that he couldn’t be a candidate until he was closer to two years old.
The family moved to Alameda in August 2015, where Allie’s dad, Albert, continued his longtime career with the U.S. Coast Guard. Allie’s new pediatrician referred them to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Liver specialists there told Allie’s parents that their son’s liver was failing rapidly and his only real chance was to have a transplant, which he underwent in January 2016, when he was just 13 months old.
Allie rebounded from the operation quickly, and began to gain weight almost immediately. “It was truly amazing,” said his mom, Julie. “We were able to get rid of the feeding tube for the first time in almost a year, and he jumped from size 1 diapers to size 2, and then to size 3.”
At the picnic reunion on Aug. 4, Allie joined dozens of other kids and adults who had undergone liver or kidney transplants as children. Everyone could see that he was an active little boy. “He was always a happy child, even when he was very sick,” his mom says, “but now his energy is through the roof. Frankly, it’s hard to keep up with him, but I’m not complaining!”
Allie now receives regular check-ups at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland as well as at UCSF’s Pediatric Liver Transplant Program in San Francisco. Doctors are watching him closely, but his mom says they almost don’t recognize him when he comes in; he’s made that much progress.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Julie said. “But I’m just so grateful that our little boy has been given the chance to live a normal, healthy life after such a frightening start. And seeing him surrounded by all these other survivors and their families really brought home how much we have to celebrate.”