When Liam Barnosky was nine weeks old, a routine doctor’s visit revealed a rare liver disease that, if untreated, would lead to liver failure.
The only sign that his parents, Jeffrey Barnosky and Jennifer Lambert of Lawrenceville, had was that Liam was slightly jaundiced, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.
Liam was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a disease that blocks the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder, slowing growth and weight gain and eventually leading to liver failure.
Just a week after diagnosis, Liam underwent a surgery to clear his liver ducts and improve bile drainage.
Still, the disease limited Liam’s activities like playing with his fraternal twin, Finn.
“We were very careful about roughhousing,” Jeffrey Barnosky said. “They're completely normal boys, and they have a good time just jumping on each other, but (Liam) could rupture his spleen, and that would be a big problem.”
Because even a common cold could land Liam in the hospital, his parents always carried hand sanitizer and were forced to postpone family trips, like Six Flags Great Adventure, where the spread of germs could be potentially dangerous for Liam.
Although Lambert and Jeffrey Barnosky hoped the Kasai procedure that Liam underwent as an infant would prevent liver failure until he was at least 10 years old, his liver started to fail after about a year and a half.
Liam was placed on the transplant waiting list on January 4. On Wednesday, June 20, he underwent a liver transplant at Children’s Hospital of Philadelpha, receiving part of his mother’s liver.
Speaking from his son’s hospital room, Jeffrey Barnosky said the surgeries went well, although doctors will monitor Liam’s progress for any signs of rejection.
“Everything has been really successful because of his mom – the living donor,” Jeffrey Barnosky said. “Her liver was in such good shape that… right now, it’s going as well as it possibly could.”
Molly Palmer, a friend of Lambert's, has organized a fundraiser on Saturday, June 30 on behalf of the Children’s Organ Transplant Association.
The Ivy Inn in Princeton will host the fundraiser from 4-7 p.m. and monies raised will help the family recoup medical costs related to Liam’s care, although the transplant procedure itself was covered by medical insurance.
The goal is to raise $75,000, although $50,000 has already been raised, according to COTA.
Tickets cost $40 and include hors d'oeuvres, drinks and live music. Since Lambert and Liam are recovering from surgery, the family cannot attend.