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“Miracle Baby” celebrates one-year anniversary of life-saving liver transplant

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Lucas Hougom

MADISON (WKOW) -- Shortly after Jenny Hougom gave birth in August 2019, her newborn son, Lucas, was diagnosed with congenital cytomegalovirus, a relatively rare virus in newborns that attacked his liver, leaving him in dire need of a life-saving organ transplant.

Lucas spent the first four months of his life in and out of hospitals as doctors tried to get the virus and his liver failure under control. But it became obvious by early December, after being admitted to University Hospital in Madison, that Lucas was going to need a transplant soon.

The transplant team knew a deceased donor liver that could fit Lucas’ body would likely not come in time. They told the Hougoms that a living liver donor was likely the only chance they had to save Lucas’ life.

The Hougoms posted an urgent plea on social media, which resulted in more than 100 people from around the country offering to help. But none of them were a good candidate, until a former high-school classmate of Jenny’s came forward. She was determined to be a good match.

“If we didn’t have a live liver donor program and a very generous and motivated donor willing to give so much of herself, Lucas certainly would not be here today,” says Dr. Tony D’Alessandro, one of the UW Health surgeons who performed the transplant on Lucas.

Lucas Hougom is believed to be the first pediatric patient to be transplanted while still having active CMV.

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