One Saturday last October, Brandon Hayes was running up and down the soccer field with his teammates. Less than two weeks later, he lay lethargic in a hospital bed at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta while his mother underwent surgery that would save his life.
It started when Brandon vomited three times on the way home from soccer. The 4-year-old seemed healthy for the next few days, but two days later, after eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he vomited again. His parents, Daniel and Cheri, kept him home from soccer practice that night so he could rest. The following morning, Daniel drove to work, but he never got out of his car. On the way, Cheri called to say Brandon was clutching his stomach in pain and they were headed to Children’s.
Brandon arrived at the hospital in acute liver failure. Four days later, the liver transplant team at Children’s placed Brandon on the national transplant waiting list. If they didn’t find a new liver for him—and fast—he probably wouldn’t survive. “I knew I had the same blood type as my son,” Cheri Hayes said. “I told them I'd do whatever they needed. I'd be the donor.” On Oct. 13, Cheri and Brandon participated in a living donor split liver transplant.
Liver transplant surgeons began Cheri’s seven-hour procedure at 8:30 a.m. They finished Brandon’s procedure 12 hours later. Today, both mother and son are doing well. Brandon’s liver will grow with him, and Cheri’s will expand to replace the piece she’s missing.