Baby develops critical condition after birth, then dad steps in to save her
This dad was literally willing to give a piece of himself to help save his baby girl's life.

Amanda and Justin Frankford were thrilled to hold their new little girl, Braylee, in their arms and take home a happy, healthy daughter.

But when she was just a few months old, she got sick – very sick. Her skin turned yellow and they rushed her to a doctor.

A rare condition

Her first tests were done in February of 2016, and the news was devastating to the Frankfords.

Their tiny daughter had a rare liver disease called biliary atresia. It scars the bile ducts both outside and inside the liver so they become blocked and bile can’t flow into the intestines. When that happens, bile builds up in the liver and damages it permanently.

They could see the problem – Braylee’s belly was distended from the buildup. The baby would need immediate surgery.

Sadly, the surgery was unsuccessful and the condition proceeded to damage the little girl’s liver. Her condition remained critical and now she would surely need a liver transplant.

In need of a miracle

Her bloated belly grew and a transplant was urgent, but there were no emergency donors available. So many of us fail to realize that there are some surgeries doctors just can’t perform without the right amount of luck – and this was one of them.

Justin then asked the doctors to run tests on him to see if he might be a match for his baby girl.

Living liver donations are possible but pose unique problems. The organ does regenerate, but at a slow pace. That means if a living adult is a match, they can only give a small piece of their liver. But it would be enough for a child.

Justin was a match and immediately agreed to go under the knife.

Of course, any surgery puts the donor at risk, but it’s something a parent would almost always do for their little one.

Another miracle

Justin was in the hospital getting prepped for the procedure when the doctors walked in with surprising news.

They found a deceased donor. It was a bittersweet celebration as the surgeon said Braylee could still have her transplant but that her father wouldn’t have to have surgery.

A family friend posted the news on the couple’s GoFundMe page:

“By the grace of God, This morning as he was being prepped for surgery, they received a liver from a different donor. Now, Justin and Amanda can be together while Braylee undergoes surgery.”

Of course, that meant another life someone ended too soon. But the donor’s liver was able to be split into two and help two babies survive.

Ever after

Braylee’s surgery went well, though any surgery for a baby is dramatic and minor complications popped up. Luckily, they could all be managed.

Now the little girl is 4-years-old and doing great!

In a recent post on a Facebook page chronicling Braylee’s journey, her mother posted and update as the little girl was getting her blood drawn for tests (she’ll be under a doctor’s care her whole life, as transplant patients well know):

“Look how far we have come in 4 1/2 years. Braylee has had more blood draws than I can count, her fair share of IV’s, many IR procedures for a stent and stent changes, and two major surgeries.
She is an absolute rockstar. Kids are SO tough and we can learn a lot from their positive attitudes when life is tough. The way her little sister looks up to her will forever melt my heart as well.
If you are in a journey like ours, stay strong. There will be great days and there will be days that you just aren’t sure you will make it any longer.”

Her mom is now committed to giving other parents in a similar situation hope – and an informal support system during the most stressful time of their lives.

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