Kiefer Sam has come a long way since his liver transplant when he was just 8 months old. Today, he has dreams of becoming a race car driver when he grows up and he loves playing with his cousins and riding his bike.
When Kiefer was born in 2008, he was diagnosed with the rare, life-threatening disease biliary atresia. The disease is caused by having no bile duct to the liver.
Kiefer was only 5 weeks old when doctors performed his first surgical procedure to create a bile duct from his small intestine to his liver. It was not as successful as they had hoped and he was added to the transplant list.
"Being on the waiting list was very stressful," Keifer's mother, Katie, said. "Kiefer was already in the hospital and the day that we found he was going to get the transplant our nurse came in and said, 'Today's the day.'
"The only thing I could do at that moment was to cry — knowing that someone had to make the decision for their child to donate their liver to Kiefer."
Although the liver transplant was a success, over the next three years Kiefer still needed many surgeries, biopsies and four rounds of chemotherapy. He also received at least 20 blood transfusions during this time.
Kiefer's parents, Katie and Thomas, say that during each blood transfusion they could see their son come back to life and become stronger.
Kiefer still faces some challenges and he will continue to during his life but his parents call him their "walking miracle".
Katie and Thomas welcome every opportunity to encourage organ, tissue and eye donation as well as blood donation.
"As he gets older I hope he can give back and raise awareness about just how important blood and organ donation is. He is here with us today because of it," Katie said.
To learn more about blood donation, please visit www.bcw.edu/blood. To join the organ, tissue and eye registry, please visit www.bcw.edu/sharinglife.