Organ recipient ‘showing progress’

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 27, 2005

Nearly six months after receiving a life-saving kidney from hisfather, two-year-old Braxton Coffey lives the life of a normaltoddler, with only a few exceptions.

Braxton was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure at five weeksand his parents, Johnny and Elaine Coffey, who live in the WestLincoln community, were told he would eventually need a kidneytransplant.

“We were told that they would never grow large enough to meethis needs,” Elaine Coffey said.

“Eventually” came a lot sooner than anyone was expecting.

Braxton’s kidney levels have been monitored closely during hisshort life and on Nov. 8 doctors at the Children’s Hospital inBirmingham reported that the then 18-month-old’s levels had morethan doubled in a two-month period. That meant he needed atransplant immediately, Elaine Coffey said.

His kidneys were operating at less than 7 percent and nearingfailure, she said.

They did not have time for Braxton to be listed on the organdonor transplant list. Fortunately, Johnny Coffey was found to be amatch for his son and was able to donate one of his. The father hasfully recovered from the surgery.

Braxton Coffey’s ordeal, however, continues. A feeding tube wasremoved last month.

“He’s showing progress,” Elaine Coffey said. “He’s still noteating or drinking all he should. It’s a struggle.”

The good news is Braxton’s once-a-week appointments at theBirmingham hospital have been modified to once a month, but shesaid doctors have not even begun to discuss when his appointmentsmight be stopped altogether.

Indications are good that there are no signs of rejection,Elaine Coffey said, but a biopsy June 2 will tell them more.

“It’s precautionary,” she said. “I’ve been told that if he had aproblem lab work would not always show that but a biopsy will tellthem all they want to know.”

The family did struggle through one especially bad spell duringthe toddler’s recovery in March when he contracted a virus that issometimes found in transplant recipients. It was treated at homethrough antibiotics until a port that had been installed near hiskidney for medications became infected. That infection led to an11-day stay at the Birmingham hospital.

Other than that one bad period, Elaine Coffey said, Braxton’sdaily routine has been similar to that of any two-year-old with theexception that he has to receive his antirejection medication everyeight hours, including a midnight session.

Friends, family and co-workers have “been a blessing” bothduring the surgery and since, she said. They held several fundraisers to help them before the surgery and the Braxton CoffeyBenefit Fund has been established at State Bank and Trustmark fordonations to help the family offset the medical costs, travelexpenses and time away from work.

“Although we have insurance, it doesn’t come near the totalcosts involved,” Elaine said. “This would have been impossiblewithout the support of the community.”

Travel expenses are still being drawn from the benefit funds,she said, and occasional donations continue to trickle in.