Charlie Richardson and his twin sister were born 7 weeks premature in May 2005. When he was 3 days old Charlie developed necrotizing entercolitis, which affected his underdeveloped intestines, and he needed 2 surgeries to remove dead bowel tissue. He was placed on TPN (total parenteral nutrition or IV fluids) to receive his nutrition and was expected to be home within a few weeks. Unfortunately his body did not heal as doctors expected and he spent the next 4 months in the NICU getting most of his nutrition from IV fluids. This long term use of TPN put a strain on Charlie’s liver and caused scarring which we were hoping would heal over time. This scarring eventually caused Charlie to develop portal hypertension. As his blood could not freely flow through his liver, it began to back up in to his spleen and caused internal bleeding. This resulted in Charlie’s spleen becoming abnormally, and increasingly, large. His sports activities would require him to wear a protective shirt to prevent damage or rupture of his spleen.
In 2013 Charlie got off the bus from school on his way home and vomited large amounts of blood. He was taken by ambulance and then by Flight for Life helicopter to Children’s Hospital where he received an upper endoscopy and banding procedure to cut off blood flow from esophageal varices that had developed due to his portal hypertension. The blood had nowhere to go due to the pressure in his portal vein so it found other routes through his esophagus. This procedure was the first of 9 scopes Charlie had over the next 1 1/2 years. After this time it was determined by his doctors that Charlie’s liver was getting progressively worse and a liver transplant was his only hope. Within a short 2 months we got the call that a liver was available for Charlie. Words cannot express what we were feeling when we got that call and we are forever grateful for the selfless gift he has been given.
Since Charlie’s 2014 transplant he has been doing amazingly well and his new liver is working perfectly! His smile, through the pain and recovery that followed, continued to shine through. He is a model of strength, joy, courage and light for all who know him. He is our hero. We trust that God has a plan to help Charlie live the life he envisions in his spirit and this is demonstrated each day that he continues to thrive.
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