The COVID-19 pandemic is an unsettling time for everyone, but it’s especially scary for those who are immunocompromised. That includes kids like 2-year-old Bryce, who had a liver transplant at Children’s Hospital Colorado as a baby.
Bryce’s family is all too familiar with what it means to live life in isolation, taking extensive precautions to prevent infection. His mom, Stephanie, says this has been her family’s reality since her son got a new liver nearly two years ago.
“Bryce has had to be hospitalized and isolated multiple times in the last few years, and each time has its own set of challenges,” she says. “One of the biggest things that we have learned with everything we’ve gone through is to have patience and believe that this too shall pass.”
Bryce was born two months premature at the Colorado Fetal Care Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado. He weighed just 3 pounds and spent a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
At 3 months old, Bryce was diagnosed with Alagille syndrome, a genetic disorder that can affect the liver, heart and other parts of the body. As months went by, Bryce began vomiting and wasn’t gaining weight – signs that his liver wasn’t functioning properly, a common complication of his condition.
By the time he was 10 months old, Bryce’s liver was failing so badly that he needed an organ transplant to survive. Thankfully, his dad, Andrew, turned out to be the perfect match.
In August 2018, Andrew and his infant son underwent simultaneous transplant surgeries – Andrew at UCHealth and Bryce a few blocks away at Children’s Colorado, which has one of the best pediatric liver transplant programs in the region. Bryce received the most precious gift of his life that day: a piece of his father’s liver.
The transplant was a success and today, Bryce is a happy, thriving toddler who loves dinosaurs and cars and has caught up on all his milestones. But he still needs to get routine lab work done at Children’s Colorado to make sure his transplanted liver is functioning properly.
Even though the family is concerned about all the unknowns that come with the new coronavirus, Stephanie says that the fear and vulnerability that everyone is experiencing now is the same way her family feels each flu season.
“Bryce is immunocompromised because of his liver transplant and will probably always be immune compromised,” said Stephanie. “The team members at Children’s Hospital Colorado have helped us feel connected, informed and prepared during this time about what steps we need to take to try and protect Bryce.”
A few weeks ago, Bryce had a check-up at Children's Hospital Colorado's Briargate location to check his liver function. Stephanie says everyone was so welcoming and happy to see that Bryce is healthy and thriving. Little Bryce kept his face mask on the entire time – a huge feat for a 2-year-old -- and he loved the Mickey Mouse stickers that he received as a reward for his bravery after his successful blood draw.
Stephanie says she’s very grateful that her son can continue to receive the world-class care he needs, even amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“I would love to say thank you to all of the caregivers on the front lines,” she says. “Thank you for showing up and taking the best care of all of the patients and their families. You are truly heroes.”