Boy in Need of Liver Gets a Big Surprise

'I felt like, if I can help him, I'm not going to sit here and watch him get sicker,' says his former preschool teacher
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2024 10:19 AM CDT

When Karen Toczek and her husband took in a little boy with liver damage at 7 months old, they were told Ezra would eventually need a liver transplant. When the time came at age 5, Toczek was in a tough position. "I'm the only one who has a matching blood type in the close circle of people who would otherwise be eligible," the registered nurse, who also has seven biological children, tells the Washington Post. But doctors foresaw a problem: How could both recover when Toczek is Ezra's primary caregiver? That left Toczek at a loss, until she made a plea on Facebook. It was spotted by Carissa Fisher, Ezra's 20-year-old former daycare teacher, who like Ezra, has O positive blood. "I didn't even have a second thought about it," she tells the Post. "I felt like, if I can help him, I'm not going to sit here and watch him get sicker."

Not wanting to give the family false hope, Fisher contacted Ezra's medical team at NYU Langone Health and, after completing bloodwork, traveled to the hospital for a full medical evaluation. On May 24, after months of waiting, she received approval to donate 30% of her liver to the little boy with end-stage liver disease who'd "clung" to her at daycare. She showed up at the Toczek home in western New York the very next day with a sign reading, "Hey Ezra! Would you like to share my liver?" "We were overwhelmed with emotion," Toczek tells WKBW. For Fisher, the best reaction came from Ezra himself. "[He] was like, 'She's going to share her liver with me! She's going to make me feel better,'" Fisher says. "That was the cutest thing."

Fisher completed a mandatory two-week reflection period on June 7. She and Ezra now hope to schedule surgeries for the end of July. The donated portion of liver will grow inside Ezra to reach normal size, just as Fisher's remaining liver will do. Though there are risks of complications, the success rate is around 90%. Ezra should go on to live a normal, healthy life, though the first year will be a bit of a roller coaster, starting with a three-month stay in New York City, funded in part through donations. Crowdfunding has also helped Fisher prepare for a month-long stay. "It just seems so crazy to think that someone would go through all that for somebody else's child," Toczek tells the Post. But "I'm just happy to be able to help him," says Fisher. She encourages others "to get out of their comfort zone and help others," too. (More uplifting news stories.)

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