Tommie Carlson is moved to tears when she recounts the details of the day her son Jordan Wyatt was diagnosed at 3 months old with biliary atresia, a serious liver disorder in which the bile ducts that carry bile from the liver become blocked. “The doctor told me the statistics, that a very high percentage of infants – around 70 percent – who are diagnosed with biliary atresia will need a transplant by the time they are two,” she says.
It was devastating news to the new mother, who was also caring for Jordan’s twin brother, Jarod, in Wichita, Kansas, far from family support. She was also working full time, going through a divorce, and managing Jordan’s daily medications. “He was on 10 or 11 meds, some of which he had to take three times a day, and some by IV,” Tommie recalls. When he was 6 months old, Jordan was placed on the transplant list for a new liver.
That’s when Tommie realized she needed to be near her family in Phoenix City, Ala. She researched hospitals in neighboring Atlanta and Birmingham, and decided Children’s of Alabama, in Birmingham, was the best place for Jordan. “The boys were 14 months old when we moved to Alabama,” Tommie says. “As soon as we got there, Jordan was put in the hospital and stayed there.”
Waiting for an organ match can take months or even years. Tommie had no idea when the right liver would come available. “Dr. Bynon, who was with the transplant program at the time, would make his daily rounds and always kept me in the loop,” she says. “What I loved about him was that he was very truthful. I know it is hard to tell a parent that a liver was offered but he had to reject it because it was not the perfect one for him. He always told me why he did not accept that particular one.”
On June 18, 2009, when Jordan was 15 months old, the right liver match was found. “It was a feeling of disbelief and shock and of being overjoyed, like is this really happening?” Tommie recalls. The surgery went well but Jordan experienced a few complications. After three or four months, he was able to leave Children’s for home.
Jordan and his twin brother Jarod will turn 5 in March. It’s hard to tell that anything is wrong with Jordan, Tommie says. Both boys play T-ball and football, and Jordan has quite a knack for the piano. He only takes one medication and has had no complications since coming home from the hospital.
“Jordan and Jarod have touched so many lives with their kind hearts, caring ways and smiling faces,” Tommie says.