Baby thrives after 5 organ transplant

Doctors said he would not make it 24-hours after his first surgery but a Washington, Indiana baby is thriving after several procedures including a multi-organ transplant.

Posted: Oct 17, 2017 9:03 PM
Updated: Oct 17, 2017 9:03 PM

WASHINGTON, Ind. (WTHI) - Doctors said he would not make it 24-hours after his first surgery but a Washington, Indiana baby is thriving after several procedures including a multi-organ transplant. 

Lawson Riley was born at just 26 weeks and five days gestation. He weighed only one pound and eleven ounces. He was already facing health hurdles but a sudden tear in his gut would cause his intestines to die. That would lead to a five organ transplant. 

At just two months old, the family learned Lawson had Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). Doctors at Riley Children’s Hospital explained this was a serious disease occurring often in premature babies. Intestinal tissue is damaged and dies off. In Lawson’s case, ninety-nine percent of his intestines had to be removed.

Lawson’s Mom Megan says, “The doctor, honestly, I got the vibe that he didn’t even want to do the surgery because he thought it was pointless.”

Lawson survived the surgery but was under the knife again the next day to remove even more dead tissue. 
“We knew that if there was any baby out there that could survive something like this that it was our little Lawson.”

This presented a new problem. Without his intestines, Lawson needed a central line and G-tube so he could get nutrients and medications and pass waste.

Lawson continued to grow and reach milestones over the next several months but he would also battle infections and other setbacks like pneumonia that would but him back in the hospital. 

“His stomach acid was just eating away the inside of his stomach.”

Lawson was eventually placed on the transplant list. He needed a new stomach, pancreas, small intestine, liver and colon. He was still very sick when he celebrated his first birthday with his family. Brian and Megan waited for a call that their baby would be saved thanks to a transplant.

On June 7th the family got a call with news they were waiting to hear. There was a donor in the same hospital. While the organs were not a perfect match, doctors said they felt good about the transplant. Lawson had surgery the next day to transplant his stomach, colon, liver, intestines and pancreas. Surgeons removed his spleen as well.

Despite lung issues after surgery, Lawson was eventually taken off a ventilator. Doctors and family say is he doing well and continues to fight. 

Lawson’s Dad Brian says, “He’s always been active. He’s always happy. Just not a sick kid. We always used to joke, Lawson is super sick but don’t ever tell him that because he won’t believe you.”

Now that Lawson is well on his way to recovery his family is stepping up efforts to ensure his future medical expenses will be covered. 

Lawson’s family is working with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) to organize fundraising campaigns. COTA is a national charity dedicated to helping patients and their families raise money to cover the costs of a transplant. Every dollar raised goes to the family. A COTA spokesperson says hospitals require proof a patient will be able to pay for a transplant before surgery. It is COTA’s priority to make sure no one is denied a life-saving surgery because they cannot pay for it.

Volunteers are raising $40,000 for Lawson. They hope to reach that goal by the end of the year. So far, roughly $30,000 has been raised. 

Donations made here are specifically in honor of Lawson. 

For more information about Lawson and fundraising efforts follow this Page on Facebook. 

To help or learn more visit or call 800.366.2682.

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