When Becca Jones says, "I've never been happier in my life," it really means something especially when you consider the challenges she and her infant son, Geoffrey, have faced over the past 11 months.
Two months after Geoffrey's birth last Aug. 10, he was diagnosed with the deadly disease biliary atresia the congenital absence orclosure of the ductsthat drain bile from the liver. The disease can cause a variety of serious and life-threatening internal problems, many of which Geoffrey experienced.
On average, there is one case of biliary atresia out of every 15,000 live births. In the United States, about 300 new cases are diagnosed each year. Most of those prove to be fatal.
But after a long, nerve-wracking wait, a liver donor was found. And since March 21, when he received the transplant, Geoffrey has become progressively stronger, healthier, happier, and a whole lot bigger.
"Things are going great," Jones said this week. "He's just as happy as can be. Every once in a while, we'll get a bit of a scare, when his blood-draw numbers which measure his liver enzymes do some jumping around. But then they just adjust his medicine, and he gets back to normal."
Geoffrey will have to take a number of prescription drugs all his life to stave off rejection of the liver, and he is now saddled with eight different medications each morning and 10 different medications each night.
It will be a good while, too, before he will be free from having to travel to see his Los Angeles doctors once a month, and his Valley doctors every three weeks.
"It's still a lot of work, but I am so happy," Jones said. "Geoffrey is just like a normal baby now. He's starting to crawl, he's standing up, he has four teeth, and he even says a couple of words: mama, boo, and a lot of jibberish. He's also eating so well that his doctors told me he needs to slow down or he'll turn into a cube."
Geoffrey's first birthday is just three weeks away, and it's likely to be quite a bash.
"It's going to be very special," Jones said, "because there were times when we didn't think we would have that day."
Further good news is that Jones' financial picture has stabilized in the wake of massive medical bills followed by community donations.
"Everyone helped out so wonderfully, they have done more than enough," Jones said. "I don't know what we would have done without them. I want to thank them all for being so generous. We're doing OK. As long as Geoffrey doesn't reject, we should be fine."