I was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease, at the young age of two months old. During the next four months of my life I was in and out of hospitals fighting liver failure and everything that comes with it – severe jaundice, malnutrition, ascites, low platelets, and infections. I was put on nutrition through an IV to help me gain weight for a potential transplant, and finally on July 1, 2009, at six months of age, I received my special gift of life, a liver transplant. My medical team proclaimed that I would not have made it my first birthday without this dear gift. Because of my donor angel, today I am a typical, curious and active boy. My favorite things to do are eating, "cooking,” "fixing” broken toys, and playing outside with my brother Raz. I am able to enjoy life with my family and friends because someone else’s family chose to donate life. My family and I will never forget nor take for granted the precious gift my donor’s family has given me.
-Smith William McRae, liver transplant recipient
FROM (Mom) ADRIANE & (Dad) BLAYNE MCRAE:
10 Years!!! Yikes! It’s still so hard to believe how far our sweet smiley yellow Buddha baby has come in 10 years…all thanks to organ donation and another family’s decision to save a stranger’s life. The longer it goes since Smith’s transplant, the harder it is to imagine our lives without him. During those darkest days when I wasn’t sure if he would get out of the ICU, I remember asking myself if he would ever wear shoes again. At that time, he was hooked up to a ventilator, monitors, medicine pumps, and TPN wearing only a diaper. I try to remember that every time I cringe when I see a shoe untied or toes busting out of a relatively new pair of shoes. One time Smith managed to even lose a shoe on the roof of the school. God was definitely smiling on me that day!
Our 10th year post transplant has been one of the best yet. Knock on wood – he hasn’t had any major medical procedures, he’s more independent when it comes to school work, he’s become addicted to reading, and he continues to amaze us with the variety of friendships he develops. Smith’s one of those kids who can mix and mingle with anyone regardless of physical attributes or personal interests. He joined the band this year which has exposed him to another world beyond sports, and he’s learned how hard/rewarding it can be.
His liver seems happy and his portal vein is still open! Smith has the appetite of a grown man and never gets tired of eating. Thank goodness he is still super active and loves all things sports. He has retired from soccer but is still playing basketball, baseball, and an occasional round of golf. He’s excited about running cross country in the fall so he can try and beat his brother and cousin. Last year he competed in an open cross country race without any training and was able to give Raz a run for his money. He was so determined to beat his brother that he threw up after crossing the finish line. I’m not sure if it was the transplant or if it’s just part of his DNA, but he is the most competitive person I know, sometimes that’s good sometimes it’s not.
Raz is growing up faster than we can keep track. He survived the first year of middle school with little drama or major issues. He still stays under the radar best he can. He’s growing and is already an inch or 2 taller than his mama, with feet are practically flippers! Thank goodness for older cousins who give him hand-me-downs. Raz has also remained very active participating in band, cross country, basketball, and baseball. His new favorite sport is golf and he wants to play any chance he gets.
It has been a dreamy 10th year post transplant and the boys are ending it with a bang. So far, their summer is one of those that they will remember for many years to come. We started it with a cousins week at Toledo Bend and much more since then. There have been several camps and lots of extra time with friends and family. We are so fortune to have family close by to help step in when we needed, like they did in 2009.
Periodically, we reach out to Dr. Alberty on special anniversaries for Smith to show him our appreciation for all he did for never giving up on Smith or his crazy parents. It’s usually a pic of Smith doing something exciting and out of the ordinary for sick transplant kids. I’ll never forget his reaction the last time we sent him a picture of Smith – (I think that time Smith was shredding snow on a majestic Utah mountain) - “The number of years he has gained is not as important as the quality of those extra years.” It was very insightful and a good reminder that all our time here on earth is a precious gift.