"We didn't know if this day would ever come, but we are glad it's here." Those were the relieved words of a happy but exhausted Kaysville father who arrived Saturday night at the Salt Lake International Airport, his most priceless possession in hand.
His baby was finally home.Brayden Seymour, the youngest child ever to undergo delicate and complicated liver transplant surgery, was officially released from the care of physicians in the Phoenix Children's Hospital - his home away from home for the past several months.
Brayden suffered from biliary atresia, a disease affecting the liver duct so the bile, necessary for digestion, can't flow out of the liver into the intestine.
Without a transplant, he would have died.
The 14-month-old boy, son of Ed and Shannon Seymour, received the lifesaving liver Jan. 31 in a seven-hour operation. Since then, his young mother has kept a bedside vigil at the hospital where their only child battled a series of minor infections and setbacks while his tiny body adjusted to the new organ.
Ed Seymour, an employee of Bookcraft Publishers, commuted back and forth between Salt Lake and Phoenix.
But the baby's roller-coaster ride to recovery finally ended this week when the Seymours were notified they could return to Utah with their bright-eyed, blond-haired son who has stolen the hearts of many people.
A Deseret News story about the round-faced child ignited public spirit just before Christmas, and many Utahns put their own wish lists aside to help Brayden. Schools, civic and business groups rallied to help raise more than $100,000 needed for the transplant and subsequent costs.
The Seymours' insurance company, which deems liver transplants "experimental," has not paid any of the stacks of medical bills accumulated over the months.
"We want to thank everyone who has contributed financially - to thank the schools, businesses and all the others who made contributions which certainly have been helpful to us," Seymour said.
But friends of the Seymours say the bills are far from being paid and no settlement has been reached with the insurance company. They are hopeful the public won't forget Brayden who, surrounded by relatives, was the center of attention Saturday night.
He will be on expensive immunosuppressive medication the rest of his life to fight organ rejection.
Those wishing to contribute to his continuing medical treatment can send donations to a restricted trust fund in his name through the American Liver Foundation.
Contributions to American Liver Foundation Transplant Fund can be sent to P.O. Box 434, Kaysville, UT 84037.