By Sophia Cortez
The Community News
When Anna Mazzei gave birth to her second baby boy, Davis, on Feb. 2, 2019, she noticed he looked ill soon after he came home from the hospital.
When she took him to the hospital doctors discovered that baby Davis contracted Enterovirus from her uterus while she was pregnant. Within the first couple of nights of Davis's life, he coded. Doctors were able to resuscitate him, but Mazzei and the doctors were preparing for the worst.
The hospital soon admitted Davis to the neonatal intensive care unit where it was discovered that the virus was in his liver. The doctors treating Davis were astonished that he was surviving. Born six weeks premature, doctors did not think Davis would have survived a full-term pregnancy.
“It's a beautiful story of how God takes things that are broken,and weaves them into something good.,” Mazzei said. “It's a terrible thing to reflect back on and painful memories, but it is so evident to me that God's hand was right on Davis.”
As the virus compartmentalized in Davis's liver, the doctors at Cook Children's Medical Center told Mazzei that he would need a liver transplant. Davis was transferred to Children's Medical Center Dallas where doctors evaluated him to see if Davis was eligible for a liver transplant. Mazzei said she had to take four weeks' worth of classes to educate her on the procedure.
Potential transplant recipients often deal with a cycle of hope and disappointment, especially when they are not at the top of the list.
“What happens is, they say ‘this liver is a potential match and you're on the backup for this liver, so be on standby,’” Mazzei said. At that point, they made all the preparations required for Davis to receive a liver.
“And then we were told four times that, ‘oh, the liver went to somebody else.’
One potential donation could not be used because the time expired before Davis could receive it.
Finally, Mazzei got the call on the last day of school in 2019 that doctors found a liver for Davis. She explained how excited she was for her son to finally receive a liver after five failed attempts in line for one.
Davis survived the first year of his life against all odds and made a remarkable recovery after his transplant.
“Dallas Children's saved his life. It ended up being a blessing in disguise that we were there because they knew exactly how to take care of him. And they trained me really well."
About four months after the transplant Mazzei got the news that they could eventually leave the hospital. Even though Davis still had daily checkups in the hospital, it was great news for the Mazzei family.
Mazzei had great things to say about Children's Medical Center Dallas.
“At Dallas Children's they are the pros at what they do. In terms of transplants, they're top of the top in the nation,” Mazzei said. “I can't praise Dallas Children's enough for the impact that they've had on our family, and on their knowledge of how to best serve Davis in this time of need.
“Davis has served as talking points during benefits and hospital fundraising events where people are there to donate money to the cause of Dallas Children's."
Mazzei expressed her utmost gratitude for her family and friends' support during this challenging time of their life. Davis is truly a living miracle, and she said “his life is being lived for two. And that he is making the most of his life not just for himself but for his donor and his donor's family.”
Mazzei not only advocates for transplant donors and their families, but she is passionate about pool safety for children because every potential donated liver during their time in Dallas came from a drowning victim.
“All of them were drownings in May in Texas,” she said. "So, one of my passions is obviously the transplant communities but also water safety."
Mazzei now has many opportunities to speak about her experience publicly, and eventually, she wants to help counsel parents who are going through something similar she went through. She also hopes that by sharing her story that the importance of water safety will be emphasized.
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