5-year-old’s family waiting for transplant call

Published 12:05 am Friday, November 3, 2017

Members of an Andalusia family are preparing themselves to pick up their lives, and basically move to Nebraska, all at a moment’s notice, to secure a better quality of life for their 5-year-old son.

Blaklee Tew was born with Hirschsprung Disease, a birth defect in which the nerve cells are missing at the end of a child’s bowel. Because the nerve cells are missing, the digestive system doesn’t function properly, causing a number of side effects and increasing the likelihood of a developing a life-threatening intestinal infection.

Blaklee, the son of Matthew and Amanda Tew, has such a severe case, he spent the first six months of his life in the hospital. Only eight centimeters of his intestine were working, and the rest of his intestine did him more damage than good.

As a result, he’s had an ostomy bag, a broviac line, and a g-tube, since he was 3 days old, all in hopes of preventing deadly infections.

Before his family celebrated his first birthday, they’d been through 15 surgeries with Blaklee.

He’s spent a good portion of his life in the Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham. To make matters worse, in January of 2016, Blaklee had a mycotic aneurysm, which is commonly caused from a hematogenous spread of bacterial infection.

The entire left side of his body was paralyzed.

“We did physical therapy for about 6 months, before Blaklee had to be hospitalized for another infection,” Amanda Tew said.

On and off for a year, Blaklee was in and out of the hospital for any minor or serious infection.

By September of this year, doctors at Children’s Hospital recommended Blaklee and his family to go to Nebraska Medicine for a transplant.

From there, the waiting game was set in motion.

The Tew family drove back and forth between Birmingham and Nebraska until they received good news.

On Oct. 12, Blaklee was placed at the top of the bowel transplant list.

“There is a four-hour window for us to make the appointment after they call, or the transplant goes to the next available person,” Tew said, “With us being in Alabama, the Children’s Hospital would fly him from Birmingham, but if for any reason they couldn’t, we could miss our appointment and we’d be right back where we started.”

After Blaklee’s transplant, the Tew family will have to stay in Nebraska for six months to a year, to ensure that it will take to his body.

“I’m happy, and scared. Happy because my son will get to live the life to the fullest if the transplant works well, and scared because they will be operating on my baby for 12 hours,” Tew said.

This Saturday, a peanut boil will take place at Marvin’s starting at 9 a.m. to raise money for the move the Tew family will make to Nebraska.

The family has a Facebook page and GoFundMe account. Both are called “Blaklee’s Blessings.