- By DeeDee Stiepan
A walking miracle: Young boy thriving after complicated liver transplant
Serena and Jon Krejchi from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, knew they were in for a medical journey when they decided to adopt a toddler named Ary from India. At only 1½ years old, Ary Krejchi had liver disease among a host of other serious medical conditions that required immediate care.
After a harrowing journey back to the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple took their little boy straight to Mayo Clinic, where, thanks to his talented and dedicated medical team, he beat the odds to become what one member of his health care team called "a walking miracle."
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Ary is a typical toddler on the move. But what this little boy has been through in his short life is anything but typical.
"He would most likely need a liver transplant in a matter of months," says Serena, Ary's mother.
But when they got to India, they realized how dire Ary's situation was. At just 1½ years old, he only weighed 11 pounds and had multiple broken bones — on top of having liver disease.
"His caregivers brought him out swaddled in a blanket, and he was just very, very small — much smaller than what we had anticipated," Serena says.
The Krejchis got him back to the U.S. and brought him straight to Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Dr. Sara Hassan, a pediatric transplant hepatologist and gastroenterologist, says during the months when Ary was rehabilitating, his medical team had the time to study how extensive his liver damage was and prepare for what would be a complicated transplant.
"I think doing a liver transplant for that age group is really difficult, given his size and his weight. That complicates matters even more. And he had the complication of the obstructed vessels, too," says Dr. Hassan.
Ary underwent a successful liver transplant in September 2021.
"He went from being carried to now walking, talking (and having the) most charming smile ever," says Dr. Hassan.
"I tell his parents, 'He's my walking miracle.' After everything he has been through, he walks around, smiling. He reminds us of just how much — even if the odds are stacked against you — to never give up. With the right support and with the right people, everything is possible. His parents love him so much. And they are such fierce advocates for him."
While Ary's journey hasn't been an easy one, the Krejchis believe it's the path they were always meant to be on.
"I hope that he knows how much that we just love and cherish him, and we're so proud of everything he's gone through," says Serena.
Ary continues to come in for checkups every few months to make sure his liver is doing well. He also is making progress in physical and speech therapy.
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