Colorado baby gets life-saving gift from living liver donor

PARKER, Colo. – A Colorado baby will get the chance to grow up, thanks to a life-saving gift from a stranger.

Greyson Ingham was born Aug. 23, 2018. Today, he is a happy, energetic and curious baby. He is crawling and will soon take his first steps.

Those precious moments weren’t always a guarantee for Greyson and his parents, Tara and Michael.

“He was born with a liver disease called biliary atresia,” Tara told FOX31.

According to the American Liver Foundation, the disease is considered rare. It is a disease of the bile ducts, which causes bile to build up in the liver. Biliary atresia only affects infants.

Greyson had jaundice for his first eight months of life. The whites of his eyes were yellow.

“It’s end stage liver failure, so had he not had a transplant, he wouldn’t have lived,” Michael said.

Their son was on the transplant list for about three weeks before they got the call that he was getting a liver. However, that first call fell through. They waited another month before getting called again.

“It was the most relieving day in the eight months that we’d had him,” his mother said. “We knew it was a new beginning for us.”

A new beginning for an organ recipient is often the end for the donor. Around 95 percent of liver transplants come from someone who has died.

According to the American Transplant Foundation, there are nearly 14,000 people on the waiting list for a liver transplant, as of August 2018. In 2017, though, just 367 liver transplants were donated by living donors.

Greyson’s transplant was made possible by a living donor.

“I just feel like it was what I was supposed to do,” Brandi Thornton told FOX31.

Thornton first became an organ donor in March 2017 when she donated one of her kidneys to a man in Ohio. Following the donation, she says she felt like she still had more to give.

“I’m a double donor now,” she said.

It is extremely rare for a living donor to donate more than one organ. It is estimated fewer than 10 people in Colorado are living double donors.

“I know other people think it’s a crazy thing,” Thornton said.

Even Greyson’s mom thought it was kind of crazy at first.

“Who would just sign up to go through major surgery to help someone that they don’t even know?” Tara said.

For Thornton, the reason is simple.

“There’s a lot of children that won’t get the change to grow up because they won’t get the life-saving organ that they need,” she said.

Thornton is a mother of two girls. She says while living organ donation isn’t right for everyone, it was right for her and for the little boy who now gets a chance to grow up like her kids did.

“He’s going to be... he’s something special,” Thornton said. “He’s going to change the world.”

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