Geoffrey Gets A New Liver

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The wait is over.

Rim country infant Geoffrey Byrne has undergone a successful liver transplant at the University of Southern California Medical Center.

Wednesday, at 11 p.m., Geoffrey's mother, Becca Jones, called her mother, Julie, with the news.

"Becca said, 'We have a liver and Geoffrey's going into surgery for about eight or nine hours, starting at 1 a.m. (Thursday) morning," grandmother Julie Jones said Thursday. "About 12 hours later, I still hadn't heard anything. I was so nervous I called the nurse's station, and they said, 'He's out of surgery and he's doing fine.'"

Directly after that conversation, Jones said, her daughter called back to confirm the report.

"Becca said the surgery went really well, and that they got a healthy, whole baby liver ... from the east coast. She said Geoffrey's color had improved just hours after the surgery, and everything seemed to be working well. He was getting rid of toxins he had never gotten rid of before. It was kind of miraculous."

Two months after Geoffrey's birth last Aug. 10, he was diagnosed with the deadly disease, biliary atresia which describes 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 has already experienced.

With luck, however, the ordeal both Geoffrey's and Becca's is over.

"Becca is doing good. She's very happy, but exhausted," Jones said.

Although Geoffrey's doctors have xxxxx

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not offered a potential timeline for his recovery, Jones said it is her understanding that "a normal liver transplant generally requires a two- or three-week hospital stay for a baby or child. And then the baby has to stay in the vicinity for a couple of months, because they have to take blood tests all day to make sure he's not rejecting it. So Becca will have to stay (in Southern California) for a couple more months and be paying living expenses still."

To help with those expenses, Becca is about to receive a very generous helping hand.

This past weekend, Cactus Flats in Tonto Basin was the site of a benefit to raise money for Geoffrey and Becca through an event which combined a horseshoe tournament, a barbecue dinner, a raffle, an auction and the collection of cash donations.

The take so far: $9,763.50.

"And we still have a lot of cash donations coming in," benefit representative Hazel Walker said Thursday.

Tonto Basin is home to Geoffrey's parents, Greg and Becca, as well as his grandparents, Gary and Mary Byrne.

"All the merchants in Payson really helped out, but I'd especially like to thank the Giant gas station on Highway 260, because just their employees alone brought in a $600 cash donation. Also, thanks to Safeway for donating part of the meat; Little Stinker in Pine for donating all of the j-johns; and everybody in Payson, because they all donated some really good stuff."

And the fund-raising continues.

To learn how you can help the Geoffrey Byrne Fund, contact trustee Scott Smith at 474-5853. Monetary donations can be made directly to Wells Fargo Bank, account No. 1003739826.

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