Young Central NY Boy Saved Once, Needs 2 More Life Saving Transplants
It truly does take a village. One Central New York boy is defying the odds with the help of friends, family, and even strangers. After one life-saving transplant, he now needs two more.
Gavin Jerzak of Sauquoit, has gone through more in 7 years than most go through in a lifetime. He was born with Biliary Atresia, a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts. At just 17 months old he received a new liver to save his life. One that came in the middle of winter storm Stella.
"Getting the call was so shocking because we've had two false alarms in the past, so we weren't getting too excited," said Gavin's mom Dana.
Prayers were answered. Gavin came through the transplant with flying colors.
Read More: Sauquoit Parents Drive Thru Stella to Save Son
Two More Transplants Needed
6 years later Gavin needs not one but two more transplants. His immune system isn't working properly and he now needs new bone marrow and a new kidney. This time it's his mom Dana who is stepping up to donate.
"The doctors can take whatever part from my body Gavin needs. As a mother, that's what I'm supposed to do. I've felt so helpless over the years, not being able to help, and now I can."
The process will begin with dialysis and chemo to kill the old bone marrow before the first transplant. "We'll be in Boston for about 4 months and it'll take 8 months to a year before we'll know if the bone marrow transplant was successful."
If the first transplant works, Gavin will move on to his second one.
Gavin's case is so rare and complex it's been sent to hospitals and doctors around the country to help find an answer. "He's just a complicated case. They don't know why or what is wrong with his immune system, they just know it's not responding properly."
Gavin's rare condition keeps him a little isolated sometimes. He's being homeschooled to keep him as healthy as possible and visitors are limited.
"After the bone marrow transplant, he can't go anywhere. Visitors will have to be outside and see him through a window."
Through it all, Gavin continues to enjoy everything life has to offer. He always has a smile that steals everyone's heart.
"If you meet Gavin you'd think there was nothing wrong with him. He looks so healthy on the outside. He's such a people person. He's so social. It's so unfair. But he knows no different."
Every year the Jerzak family celebrates Gavin's 'Liverversary'. They have a picture of the little boy who saved his life in their home and they've even given his liver a nickname - Stella.
"Sincenwe drove through Stella to save his life and it help Gavin get his groove back, it only made sense."
The community has also come together to support Gavin and his family. Friends, family, and strangers have stepped up with GoFundMe donations and raffles to help with expenses for travel back and forth to hospitals, medical bills, and anything else the family needs.
"Knowing I can still pay bills at home while being away, how do you thank people for that outpouring of support?"
Jerzak Family Thank You
A recent benefit for Gavin brought in an overwhelming amount of donations, leaving the Jerzak family truly touches.
My family and I are extremely grateful for our community. We were moved and humbled by the outpouring of support and donations. Gavin's benefit was beyond what we could have ever imagined. So many thank you's are needed and we apologize that we can't personally thank everyone.
A special thank you to all the amazing teachers and staff at both the Sauquoit Valley and Waterville School Districts. Another special thank you to all of Dana's coworkers and friends at MVHS. Your support for our family, especially Gavin, is monumental in helping us through this difficult time.
Thank you to everyone who donated a basket, volunteered their time to sell tickets, and helped organize and run the event. You are all appreciated. Thank you to the Utica Comets for your support. A very big thank you to City Cafe for opening up your doors and hosting the benefit.
We are so grateful for each and every one who attended our benefit. We have a long road ahead, but with family, friends, and strangers like you, we will be able to push forward.
You can help Gavin and his family too. A GoFundMe.com have been set up to help cover the expenses that continue to pile up.
"I wanted to add a huge thank you to all the donors on the GoFundMe, especially the anonymous donors. We are so grateful."
You can also learn more about organ donation and how to save a life like Gavin's at OrganDonor.gov.