“He needed a transplant before his first birthday”
During a routine six-month wellness check up for their baby boy, Luke’s parents got the shock of their lives. The pediatrician found a lump in Luke’s abdomen. Further testing revealed that he had a large tumor on his liver, and a biopsy confirmed it was cancerous. The doctors classified the tumor as stage III Hepatoblastoma, a type of liver cancer affecting children younger than three. In this case, two to three sections of the liver’s tissues contain cancerous cells. Luke began chemotherapy treatments as his parents watched in helpless agony. While the anti-cancer drugs attempted to shrink his tumor, Luke was placed on the waiting list for a liver transplant.
As if having their son’s life hanging in the balance wasn’t terrifying enough, Luke’s parents then learned that the chemotherapy was not successful in significantly reducing the size of his tumor. At that point, all they could do was wait for a new liver to become available. Stuck in a torturous limbo, the family went through three false alarms where the hospital called to alert them that Luke was second in line for a new liver. Each time the phone rang, they were desperate with anticipation, and each time their hopes were shattered. In order to even be eligible for a transplant, Luke had to go off all chemotherapy drugs, and in the absence of medication, his cancer spread. When Luke turned ten months old, an unbearable four months after their nightmare began, his uncle courageously stepped in to give his nephew 30 percent of his own liver. Thankfully, Luke’s body accepted the donated portion of healthy liver. He spent another month in the hospital post-operation as his doctors monitored his progress. All of this took place before Luke’s first birthday. Still, Luke had to spend the following 18 months on a feeding tube.
Now eight years old, Luke still must visit the oncologist once a year, see the transplant doctors every six months, and have blood work done and ENT exams every two months. As a result of the chemotherapy, Luke experienced high frequency hearing loss and requires hearing aids. He even attended a special hearing impaired school. Now back in public school, Luke’s teacher uses an FM program that amplifies sound directly into his hearing aid. The device cancels out any background noise and isolates her voice so that it is the only sound that Luke hears. He is also enrolled in speech class. Luke is very outgoing and loves making new friends. He is a proud Cub Scout and recently developed an interest in martial arts such as taekwondo and kung fu.
Kids Wish Network is hard at work planning a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Luke; make sure to stay up to date by checking back soon for all of the fun details of his spectacular wish!