MADISON, Wis. (NewsNation Now) — A Wisconsin couple is celebrating Monday, the first anniversary of a life-saving liver transplant for what doctors call their “miracle baby.”
Lucas Hougom was born in August 2019. Shortly after his mother Jenny gave birth, he was diagnosed with congenital cytomegalovirus or CMV, a rare virus that attacked his liver.
Lucas spent the first four months of his life in and out of hospitals. He was in desperate need of a liver transplant, but infections kept causing surgeries to be postponed.
The Hougoms took to social media to find a donor for their son; more than 100 people from around the country offered to help, but none of them were good candidates. Until one year ago, on Jan. 18, a former high-school classmate of Jenny’s came forward to donate a piece of her liver.
“If we didn’t have a live liver donor program and a very generous and motivated donor willing to give so much of herself, Lucas certainly would not be here today,” said Dr. Tony D’Alessandro, one of the University Hospital in Madison surgeons who performed the liver transplant on Lucas. “And to see Lucas growing and developing today the way any one year old would is truly remarkable.”
The Hougoms say they’ll never forget the selflessness of their family friend and the tireless effort shown by the UW Health staff.
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“Lucas has taught us all what it means to be strong, and he continues to be such a tough cookie through it all,” Hougom says. “But while this story is ultimately about our son, it’s also a story about the strength and determination of his donor and the transplant team at UW Health. We have so much appreciation for them. Lucas is alive because of their gifts, and we will be forever grateful.”
Doctors say Lucas is believed to be the first pediatric patient to receive a transplant while still having active CMV.