Words by Paige Townley
A move to Birmingham benefitted the Lawler family for many reasons. Not only were the able to get closer to family, but through the move they also found Children’s of Alabama.
Ezra Lawler has biliary atresia, a congenital condition in which bile is blocked and cannot move from the liver to the gallbladder. He was diagnosed at seven weeks old and had surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston to connect the liver to the small intestine. The condition, however, already caused damage to his liver, so the family knew a liver transplant was more than likely in his future.
His mother, Nicole, began bringing him to Children’s when he was three months old. After routine monitoring in the clinic, his doctors discovered that a liver transplant would be needed when Ezra was about four years old. In January, Ezra received a new liver. “The transplant team at Children’s has been wonderful--everybody from the gastroenterologist to the transplant doctors and surgeons,” Nicole says. “They got him listed quickly so that we could find his new liver, and when we got his transplant, we had wonderful care.”
The team had Ezra up and moving around with physical therapy quickly after surgery, and he was healing well. “Every day, his whole transplant team would come in, at least twice a day, to look at him and see how he was doing,” Nicole adds.
Out of the blue, however, Ezra began experiencing intense pain post-transplant. It was obviously a scary time for the family, but doctors quickly moved to bring in palliative care to put together a pain management plan. “The team listened and heard my concerns, as well as my husband’s concerns,” Nicole says. “They continued to evaluate him and came up with a really great plan and back onto a pain level that was much more manageable.”
Once the pain subsided, Ezra turned the corner on the healing process. It wasn’t long at all before he was back to enjoying the typical four-year-old boy activities, like playing with monster trucks, race cars, and dinosaurs. He also quickly got back to playing sports, particularly baseball, football, and golf. A new addition to his favorite pastimes thanks to his time at Children’s is Legos. “We played Legos in the hospital every time we were there,” Nicole says. “Building his Legos is something he always has to look forward to when at Children’s.”
While Ezra may appreciate his time at Children’s because of the small colorful building blocks, his mom is thankful for the life-saving care. “There has never been a moment where I did not feel like he wasn’t getting the care that he deserved,” Nicole says. “Ezra’s future is bright. It’s anything he wants it to be at this point. With his new liver, he has a second chance at life.”