HART, Mich. (WOOD) — An Oceana County family hopes the power of social media can help save a boy who desperately needs a liver transplant.
Ryan Hitchcock used to love walking to the gas station not far from his home in Hart but swelling from liver failure has all but confined the 11-year-old to a wheelchair permanently.
“His belly is getting bigger,” his mom, Carol Hitchcock, told News 8 Monday. “He can’t walk very far anymore. (The swelling is) crushing his lungs.”
Ryan was born at just 23 weeks and spent his first eight months in the NICU at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. He had a tracheotomy when he was one and lived some of his life with a colostomy bag.
“He’s had so much going on with him. He’s always — he’s won everything he had so far,” his mom explained, stopping every few words to keep her composure. “Now this is the big one. We need a liver.”
A Liver For Ryan chronicles his health obstacles on Facebook in hopes of finding him a living donor.
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital treated him up until this point but referred the family to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh because it doesn’t handle liver transplants for children.
Hitchcock credited Dr. Scott Curtis in Grand Rapids for getting the referral expedited. Ryan is currently 35th on the transplant list, but that won’t save him in time.
“The liver’s growing and pushing up on everything and making it hard for him to breath, to do anything anymore,” Hitchcock said.
Insurance will cover flights and surgeries for both Ryan and his donor in Pittsburgh. The donor will be able to give a portion of his or her liver in order to generate a new one for the 11-year-old.
Neither of his parents are able to donate, so the social media plea is their last hope for Ryan.
“We’d owe them everything for this. I mean, Ryan’s life depends on this,” his mom pleaded. “We need this chance for him to survive.”
You can learn more by visiting the Facebook page. There you’ll find photos of Ryan and more on his background.
To go directly to the donor application, visit UPMC’s page. Select “Donation to a specific individual” in the second question and write “Ryan Hitchcock” once the option for a specific name is added to the application page.