Stories about: Scott Elisofon

Saving Sam: specialized liver transplant gives newborn a second shot at life

For most first-time parents, the initial few weeks of caring for a new baby can be nerve-wracking. But, the first month of parenting for Kevin and Maureen Sturtevant was nothing short of terrifying.

Days after coming home from the hospital, their son Sam refused to eat and felt cold to the touch. Worried, the Sturtevants took Sam to their local hospital where he was quickly admitted. In the coming days, Sam was diagnosed as having an enterovirus that was affecting all his organs, especially his liver, which was beginning to fail.

Sam’s condition continued to worsen. It soon became clear he needed higher subspecialty liver care than what was available in his local hospital, so his care team arranged for the family to be transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Center for Childhood Liver Disease.

Moments after they arrived in Boston, the Sturtevants met a whole team of people who would be taking over Sam’s care, including Center for Childhood Liver Disease Associate Director Scott Elisofon, MD. “We met everyone, from neonatologists to nephrologists. It was a lot to take in at first, but Dr. Elisofon acted as our point person, which made things less overwhelming,” Kevin says. “And even though we spoke mostly with him, we always knew there was an entire team of people supporting Sam and us. It made a difficult time a little easier.”

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The race to save Hannah

After she was stricken with a serious illness almost overnight, and then rushed to Boston Children’s Hospital where in a matter of hours she received multiple treatments—including an extremely rare liver transplant—Hannah Swift could be the most aptly named eleven-year-old in the world.

In an age where close monitoring, drugs and advanced therapies can prevent or delay transplant surgeries for weeks or months, Hannah’s story is an amazing example of medical collaboration where every minute counted in saving her life.

More than a stomach bug

Hannah had been coughing and vomiting for a few days when her mother Carolyn brought her to see a pediatrician. Given the season, both mom and doctor assumed Hannah had caught the flu, so she was sent home for a few days bed rest. After two days of sleep and chicken noodle soup, Hannah wasn’t feeling any better. A day later she was so weak that she needed help getting into the shower. After noticing a yellowish tint around Hannah’s eyes and skin, Carolyn called the doctor who said they needed to go to the local hospital right away.

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