Miracle Monday – Meet Zach!

Zach Byars was admitted to Children’s of Alabama as a newborn into the Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with an ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, which is a rare inherited disorder that causes ammonia to accumulate in the blood. Ammonia, which is formed when proteins are broken down in the body, is toxic if the levels become too high. Zach was in desperate need of a liver transplant, but he couldn’t get one until he had a stable family.

Zach was moved into the Children’s Special Care Unit, where he met his nurse and eventual adoptive mother Amy Byars.

Amy and her husband John became foster parents to Zach, and a week later, Zach was able to receive a liver transplant. Amy says that “Transplant Coordinator Robin Greer stood by our side, fought for Zach, and helped us through the process. She was there for us through it all.”

Three weeks after the transplant, Zach was discharged home, but soon experienced complications. He first suffered from a biliary stricture, or an abnormal narrowing of the bile ducts. For one year, Zach had tubes inserted into the ducts every six weeks to expand them. Zach also experienced multiple septic episodes that required a visit to Children’s allergist and immunologist Dr. Prescott Atkinson. Atkinson discovered Zach suffers from a primary immune disorder, resulting in weekly intravenous immunoglobulin treatments at home.

Dr. Atkinson’s discovery helped resolve many of Zach’s issues, but the doctor visits weren’t over yet. Chronic ear infections led Children’s otolaryngologist Dr. Audie Woolley to implant a bone-anchored hearing aid that Woolley continues to monitor. Zach also suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative retinal disease that typically leads to blindness.

Despite the obstacles, Zach brought unfathomable joy to the Byars family. Amy and John officially adopted Zach, joining their three other children, Sallie, Luke and Molly.

“Our bond with Zach is so strong,” Amy said. “From the minute he came home with us, we all loved him. He’s such a special little boy, and he’s done so much no one ever expected, like walking and talking. He’s a miracle.”

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