Sean Kelley's son Sawyer was born with Alagille syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes liver damage

By Gabrielle Chung
January 16, 2020 07:12 PM
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WYFF

A New York dad quickly jumped into action when he learned that his weight had eliminated him as an organ donor.

Sean Kelley embarked on an epic weight loss journey just so he could qualify as a living liver donor for his newborn son Sawyer, who was diagnosed Alagille syndrome at birth and needed a transplant to survive, according to WYFF News 4.

As his wife Josie also has Alagille syndrome and is unable to donate a part of her liver, Sean seemed to be the only viable candidate — and he started to lose weight in order to be considered a match.

“There’s no reason that I can’t get down to the weight that I need to see if could I could be a match as well,” he told Good Morning America. “I didn’t know if I would be a match for Sawyer or not, but to even go through the evaluation process, I had to get my weight down to a certain point.”

Sean started actively working out in August 2019, eventually dropping 30 pounds to qualify for the testing needed to become a donor, according to WYFF.

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Not only did he reach his assessment goal weight, but Sean was also proved to be a match for his son’s liver transplant. The dad told the outlet Sawyer’s donation coordinator was the one who called him, “She said, ‘Guess what? You’re a match. The surgery’s scheduled.'”

“And I literally had to sit down,” he added.

The transplant surgery — which took place on Dec. 19 — was “complex and challenging,” Dr. George Mazariegos, the chief of pediatric transplantation at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, told Good Morning America.

“He will be much healthier, we believe, with this liver, and be able to withstand infections and withstand things that right now were really big setbacks for him,” the physician said of baby Sawyer.

Alagille syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes liver damage as a result of abnormalities in the organ’s bile ducts. The condition can also target other vital organs such as the heart.

Three of Sean’s children are also affected by Alagille syndrome, according to Good Morning America.

Sean told the outlet he’s grateful the transplant was a success, and that he hopes his story will help inspire others to consider being a living organ donor.

He said, “It’s an incredible thing to even consider being evaluated and going through the process to see if you could be a match for somebody.”