UW Health doctors save miracle baby with rare liver infection

It’s been one year since a mother in Onalaska was told by doctors her newborn son might not overcome a rare liver infection. A team of one-of-a-kind doctors at UW Health went forward with a plan to save his life.

Lucas Hougom

By the accounts of many doctors, Lucas Hougom shouldn’t be here.

"He was quiet, and still calm, but all of a sudden he just started vomiting blood," said Jennifer Hougom, Lucas's mother.

Only a few months old, Lucas was fighting for his life.

"He has been diagnosed with congenital CMV, or cytomegalovirus," said Dr. Katryn Fuyura, UW Health.

The rare liver infection meant Lucas was going to die without a transplant.

"I lost it," said Jennifer Hougom. "My husband took the reins on the rest of the appointment. I remember coming downstairs and I just lost it."

Incredibly, a family friend was a perfect match but now began the real hard part -- performing the surgery, and keeping everyone alive. Lucas Hougom is believed to be the first pediatric patient to be transplanted while still having active CMV.

"What they did was truly, truly remarkable," said Dr. Fuyura. "I’ve been in practice for about 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this, where the surgeons would go to such heroic lengths to save this little infant’s life." 

Amazingly, some daring and genius doctors at UW Health pulled it off.

"She told me that we’re going to get him through this, and she did," said Hougom. "She did, and we’re forever grateful for that."

Lucas Hougom

A year later, Lucas has proven he's a genuine miracle baby. 

"I have broken," said Hougom. "My husband has broken down. We’ve all just lost it so many times, and this child has just, every time, pulled through."

Lucas’s family says they are forever grateful for everyone who kept their child alive.

To learn more about organ donation via UW Health, visit their website.

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