CLEVELAND –A 10-year-old boy is a living miracle, after waiting eight years for a multi-organ transplant.
“I just thought about it at night; I laid in bed thinking about him being in there all by himself,” Annie Lykins remembers the nights before she decided to take legal custody of Victorious Nera.
Victorious, also known as Vic, is a fighter. He was born with Short Gut Syndrome, which almost killed him as a baby and requires him to get all his nutrients from an IV.
Vic was in foster care until he was about two years old. Then he was adopted and loved by his mom for years while he had to have dozens of surgeries. But the medicine that Vic needed to live was also destroying his liver and pancreas. Vic got on the organ transplant list.
During that time, Lykins was one of his home health nurses and, tragically, Vic’s mom took her own life. He was sent to a facility for medical care.
So Lykins, the nurse, stepped in and took legal custody of Vic in March of 2017. She brought him into her family, with her own three children.
“It was crazy the way everything kind of fell into place; it was a domino effect. He fit perfectly with our family; it was like he was always there,” she said. In November, the family got the news that there was an organ donor for Vic.
Dr. Kareem Abu-Elmagd at the Cleveland Clinic has treated Vic for years. “These patients is like our baby because we are taking care of them day and night and we see them often so we establish a bond and relationship,” he said.
There are only about 100 transplants like Vic’s done every year in the United States. Dr. Abu-Elmagd does about a third of them in Cleveland. Vic’s surgery giving him a new liver, pancreas and small intestine lasted 16 hours and was a success.
“Everybody was excited in the operating room when we had the organs in. They fit in his abdominal cavity and the whole team was so excited that we were able to help Vic with the new organs,” he said.
Vic is recovering well and will eventually be able to start eating foods like a regular kid.
“I expect Vic to be one of those who one day could be the president of the United States,” Dr. Abu-Elmagd said.
But right now Vic is more focused on spending time with his new family and hopefully being home for Christmas.