PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A little boy in Portland has a new lease on life thanks to his mom and a team of doctors in California.
Felix Pon seems like your typical, energetic toddler. However, the 2-year-old has already been through a lot in his short life.
“Felix was a totally normal birth, normal baby, no problems,” his mom, Katie Gilmer Pon, said. “But I noticed around [the time he was] 4 weeks old the whites of his eyes has yellow.”
It turned out that Felix had a rare liver disease.
His parents were told he would need a liver transplant. However, he was low on the list because he wasn’t sick enough.
Felix’s parents realized they’d probably need a living donor — someone who’s alive to donate part of their liver. Thankfully, his mom turned out to be a match.
“One of the hardest things you can do as a parent is seeing your kid get sicker and sicker and sicker,” Gilmer Pon said. “We just decided we’d had enough waiting and wanted to take control over the situation and some hope, and when we scheduled the living donor surgery, we felt really good and like there was some hope in sight.”
A team at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health went on to perform the first live-donor liver transplant — laparoscopically — on the west coast, taking a small part of Gilmer Pon’s liver and giving it to her son.
The results were immediate.
“A lot of times you don’t realize how debilitating this liver disease is, but then [the patients] get a new lease on life after the transplant,” Dr. Andrew Bonham of Stanford Children’s Health explained. “They have more energy, they’re more outgoing, and I think that’s been the case for Felix.”
Felix’s parents say they could tell he was feeling better almost immediately after the transplant.
“He was smiling more, laughing more, just more engaged,” Gilmer Pon said.
Felix and his family have been back in Portland for about 5 months — and so far, so good. He’s been enjoying playing with his older brother Kieran and his favorite toy, a small ambulance.
His parents say they’re so grateful for medical and scientific advances, along with the Stanford team for saving their little boy.
“It’s hard to put into words, right? I mean, you saved Felix’s life and you did it in a way that was so minimally impactful to Katie,” Felix’s dad, Evan Pon, said.
Felix will have to take immunosuppressants for the rest of his life, but the Stanford team says hopefully, he won’t need any additional surgeries.
Anyone interested in registering to be an organ donor can apply at registerme.org.