The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
‘Miracle’ baby doing well after transplants
BY CATHY DYSON
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Jaxon Brown, the “miracle” baby who weighed only a pound and a half at birth, got a triple transplant on Thursday.
Surgeons at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington replaced Jaxon’s damaged liver, bowel and pancreas with donated organs. Jaxon’s parents, Danielle and Josh Brown of Fredericksburg, don’t know anything about the donor, except that the baby was the same size as Jaxon, who weighs 18 pounds and is 15 months old.
Danielle Brown got the call that organs were available about noon on Wednesday and had Jaxon at the hospital by 3 p.m.
“It’s so unreal, I still can’t even get it in my head that it really happened,” she said. “I’m excited, I’m nervous—actually, I’m petrified—not knowing what could happen from here.”
Organ recipients face the risk of rejection, and Jaxon’s mother said she realized her son is looking at “three times the risk” with his surgery.
But these types of transplants have been standard operations since the 1990s, according to Georgetown, which does 20 to 25 bowel transplants a year.
Half are triple transplants like Jaxon’s, according to the public relations office.
Across the country, about 15,000 young people suffer with some type of liver disease, and between 500 and 550 of them get liver transplants a year, according to the hospital.
Eighty percent are like Jaxon—under 5 years old.
Those who receive transplants are likely to enjoy a quality of life that’s virtually the same as for children who never faced a life-threatening disease, according to Georgetown.
Dr. Cal Matsumoto, a transplant surgeon, said Jaxon’s functions looked good one day after surgery.
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” he said.
‘LIVER WAS SO SHOT’
Jaxon was born June 2, 2011, more than 16 weeks early. Even among premature babies—those born before the full term of 40 weeks—he was among the smallest of the small.
Doctors warned that his lungs weren’t developed and that he could face neurological problems, but he later passed vision and hearing tests with flying colors.
He was called the “miracle” baby on a website that chronicled his progress.
When he was able to come home to Heritage Park Apartments with his parents, six months after his birth, he amazed those around him.
His pediatrician, Dr. Amy Cochran of Fredericksburg, said he made great strides and “being home has really been important for him.”
His weight climbed, his cheeks got chubby and he smiled in almost every photo.
Despite Jaxon’s progress, his family knew he’d sustained serious damage to his stomach from his early birth. Infections got so bad that surgeons had to remove most of his small intestine. He couldn’t process food on his own, and a line was installed, from his nose to his stomach to deliver nutrition.
It wasn’t meant as a permanent fix, and the Browns knew that long-term use would destroy Jaxon’s liver.
And that’s just what had been happening in recent weeks, his mother said. Jaxon’s failing liver made him weak, and he vomited blood regularly.
Danielle Brown said Friday morning that surgeons determined his new liver is working.
“That’s the main thing we wanted,” Danielle Brown said. “His liver was so shot, it was killing him.”
‘IT ALL DEPENDS ON JAXON’
Jaxon had been on a waiting list for the organs for almost a year, and his family faces another “waiting game,” his mother said.
He could be in the hospital for as little as three weeks or much longer, depending on complications.
“It all depends on Jaxon and how his body reacts to everything,” Danielle Brown said.
Once he’s home, his parents will have to be vigilant about keeping him away from germs. His autoimmune system is compromised from medicine he takes to keep his body from rejecting the organs.
That means the Browns will have to keep Jaxon and his big sister, 4-year-old Cloe, apart for most of the winter. Cloe started preschool this year, and friends and family have offered to help with her care when she’s out of school.
The Browns also have a home-health nurse who will help with Jaxon.
“Cloe loves her brother so much, it’s crazy,” Danielle Brown said. “That’s gonna be the hardest part, making sure she has no contact at all.”
For updates about his condition, go to Facebook and search: Pray for Jaxon Brown.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425