Parents will go to great lengths to ensure that their children are safe and healthy. Imagine Matt and Andrea Campbell’s shock when they learned that Matt was ineligible to donate an organ to their 1-year-old son, Brooks, who was in desperate need of one.
Andrea’s younger brother, Grant, stepped up to be the organ donor for his nephew, saving both of their lives. Brooks is now a lively 2-year-old child.
Matt and Andrea talked about Grant’s inspirational altruistic act and their one-of-a-kind story in an interview.
The family was outdoors shooting photos for their Christmas cards, and Andrea noticed that her 17-month-old son appeared yellow in the shots. Brooks puked after breakfast the next morning, causing alarm. Following that, the concerned parents took their youngster to the doctor.
“His liver appeared to be structurally sound.” Andrea contributed. “However, his liver numbers and tests were astronomically high.”
Brook, it turned out, had acute liver failure, likely caused by the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). It’s a highly contagious virus that causes respiratory tract illnesses.
The GI specialist then informed the anxious parents that Brooks would be moved to Cleveland Clinic in case he needed a liver transplant.
“It was like a ton of bricks,” Andrea described her experience. “Where did this come from, exactly?”
“At the time, we didn’t know what caused the liver failure, but the situation was extremely, really urgent,” says Dr. Koji Hashimoto, director of Cleveland Clinic’s living donor liver transplantation program. “He didn’t have much liver function when he arrived. You will not be able to survive if your liver function is completely lost.”
Because a liver transplant was Brooks’ sole choice for survival, a separate team of Cleveland Clinic caregivers worked rapidly to undertake a streamlined living organ donor evaluation for acute liver failure.
“You have days, weeks, or even months to identify a living donor for someone with chronic liver failure.” Dr. Radhakrishnan, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist for children, stated. “But we didn’t have the luxury of time with Brooks.” We needed to find the proper person as soon as possible.”
The team, led by Donna Ferchill, RN, clinical nurse manager for liver transplants, and Natashia Rush, transplant coordinator, began looking for a match within the immediate family. Andrea was thrown out of the running because she was pregnant at the time.
Matt, the father, hoped he would be the finest option. Unfortunately, hours of testing revealed he and everyone on his side of the family had a genetic blood clotting issue, ruling them out.
“That was difficult to hear,” said the father. “I was mentally prepared to jump in and assist Brooks right away. We needed to find out how we were going to go about doing this now.”
Andrea’s brother, Grant, who had traveled in from Texas, was present when the parents learned that they were both ineligible.
“I recognized I was up when our little guy died.” Grant recalled something. “I felt compelled to come here from Austin for a purpose. ‘This is the cause,’ I began to think. ‘I’m meant to be the one who gives.’
Grant was put to the test and found to be a perfect match. He called his sister right away after hearing the wonderful news and told her about his plans to donate his organs.
“I said, ‘Let’s go baby,’ and she looked at me like, ‘Well, what does it mean?’” Grant reflected on how he broke the exciting news to Andrea. “We’re going!” I exclaimed.
Andrea still wears a bracelet that says “LET’S GO BABY!!!” to honor that pivotal event in their lives.
Grant made his decision during a difficult period in his life. He had recently moved away from his family to Texas, ended a relationship, and experienced the failure of a new business, all of which contributed to his despair.
“I simply felt worthless as a man and alone, unwanted since I wasn’t talking to anyone about it,” a tearful Grant explained. “I’ve simply gone into seclusion.” Then, towards the end of January, I began to have suicidal thoughts and considered killing myself.” He admitted it.
“And I’m so glad I didn’t because little Brooks needed me 10 months later.” And I’m not sure he would have made it if I hadn’t been there,” Grant said.
A nurse encouraged Grant to think about something that makes him truly happy before falling asleep while waiting for the organ transplant to begin.
“My pleasant thought would be watching Brooks running around and being the cheerful boy we all knew he was, who brings so much joy into our lives,” I told her.
Grant’s cheerful thought has, of course, become reality. Brooks has healed and is once again a lively, energetic child.
“It’s often said that children are resilient.” Andrea generously shared. “He’d have these enormous stitches in his stomach and be jumping over the sofa like nothing was wrong.”
Andrea continued, “Once we got home, he just blossomed into this new little guy.”
“I’ve had a lot of difficulties throughout my life. But, for the first time, I felt a sense of purpose throughout the procedure. That is something I will be eternally grateful for.” Grant described with tears in his eyes how his organ donation altered his life.
“Now there will always be a particular tie between him and Brooks.” The thankful mother expressed her gratitude. “He gave us the gift of life, and I’m not sure how you ever repay someone for that.”
“I joke that one day I’ll write a book and put ‘Dedicated to Brooks, people said I saved your life that night in November, but in truth you saved mine.’”
Brooks provided his life a sense of purpose, making it more meaningful than ever. Grant may have saved Brooks’ life, but Brooks gave his life a sense of purpose, making it more meaningful than ever.
Watch the video below to learn how an organ donation rescued Brooks’ life and Grant’s from a bad situation.