Brayden Seymour, the bright-eyed, 11-month-old Kaysville baby who stole the heart of Utahns, celebrated his first birthday March 12 six weeks after receiving a life-saving liver transplant.
The miraculous celebration is in part due to fund-raising efforts of local residents, who continue to help pay for the child's medical expenses expenses that accumulate as Brayden's tiny body adjusts to its new organ.This month Brayden was moved out of intensive care to an intermediate care unit at Phoenix Children's Hospital, where he received a new liver Jan. 31. He was the youngest child to undergo the delicate and complicated liver-transplant surgery, performed by Dr. Lawrence Koep. As yet, Utah physicians aren't doing pediatric liver transplants, so the family went out-of-state for the surgery.
His father, Ed Seymour, said the family and physicians are encouraged by Brayden's progress "because he is acting good, and so far the new liver is working well."
Physicians at Phoenix Children's said the Utah child was healthier going into transplantation surgery than any child they'd seen with his stage of liver disease. They attribute this to the good care he received from Dr. Linda Book at Primary Children's Medical Center.
Brayden hasn't been on a ventilator for three weeks, and he no longer requires oxygen. His lungs have improved greatly, but the tyke still receives respiratory treatment as needed to battle the bouts of pulmonary infection that have plagued his recovery. That has been his biggest obstacle.
"His attitude has been great," Seymour said. "He's smiling a lot even giggling on several occasions and playing more."
A natural, pink color has replaced the child's jaundiced complexion, caused by biliary atresia, the disease that affected Brayden's liver duct so that bile needed for digestion couldn't flow out of the liver and into the intestine.
The father, who has commuted back and forth from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, said a physical therapist is working with Brayden on his coordination skills, and a speech therapist helped him remember that he can eat on his own. The loving parents are continuing the task.
"At this point he's doing well," Seymour said. "He has overcome some big obstacles, and we definitely expect some more. He's not out of the woods, but appears to be right on track."
Seymour said rejection will be a lifetime concern, and Brayden will always be on immuno-suppression therapy.
While Seymour and his wife Shannon are in Arizona, businesses, community groups and schools in Utah have continued fund-raising efforts to help pay for the operation and subsequent medical expenses, which have already exceeded $100,000.
Many insurance companies still consider organ transplants "experimental" and therefore, as yet, do not pay for the expensive operations. But more companies are looking for ways to add this benefit to their insurance packages.
In the meantime, one business pitching in to help cover Brayden Seymour's extensive medical costs is Country West Construction and Real Estate, which has agreed to donate all labor costs associated with the construction of a special house built to help Brayden. Some of the profit from the house will be given to the Seymour family.
Company spokesman Rod Moore said the final donation could range from $20,000 up to the full cost of the finished house.
To increase the figure above the labor costs, John Higley, general contractor of the project, is encouraging subcontractors and materials suppliers throughout Weber, Davis and Salt Lake counties to contribute whatever they can.
"It's conceivable that because of the generosity of those in the building industry, we could write a check for $50,000 or more to help the miracle of preserving young Brayden's life," Moore said.
Moore said Country West Construction is offering a special package to encourage potential buyers of the home. The package includes a purchase price of $2,000 under the appraised value of the finished building, as well as free landscaping, sod, sprinkler system, fencing and the first year's insurance.