2016 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: Braxton Hanson

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Braxton Hanson with his family: Mom Alysia, little brother Blake and dad Ken.At four years old, Braxton Hanson is full of life and love. He enjoys school and adores his little brother, Blake.


But Braxton did not have an easy start in life. He was born 14 weeks premature and spent the first eight months of his life in the hospital. Medication he was given as an infant to close a heart valve also constricted a blood vessel to his kidney, causing renal failure. Braxton was transferred to UW Health American Family Children's Hospital to receive the highly specialized care he needed. The family, who was living in Green Bay at the time moved to Madison so Braxton could continue to get the care he required to meet his complex medical needs. His medical team was working to achieve their ultimate goal – to get Braxton off his ventilator and strong enough to undergo a transplant.


Braxton was on a dialysis every night. He didn't sleep well, was very uncomfortable and often sick. He required around the clock care, and an overwhelming amount of home medical equipment. His parents, Alysia and Ken, provided his care and received help from a nurse a few times a week.


In May 2015, the family's and medical team's goal was achieved when Braxton received a kidney from his mom, Alysia. "Braxton woke up happy after surgery and has been happy ever since," says Alysia. Before his transplant, Braxton had to use all his energy simply to breathe and live. "Now," says Alysia, "he gets to see all the world has to offer!" He recently took his first steps without his walker and is learning to use his voice again. He started 4K and loves riding the school bus. He can't get enough of his little brother. "He doesn't want to be outdone by Blake," says Alysia, "and his desire to keep up has been great for his development."


Throughout their son's medical journey, Alysia and Ken found the courage to persevere. "We developed a high level of trust in our medical team," says Ken. "They cared so much about Braxton and our family, and Braxton is braver than he'll ever know."


Braxton loves coming to the hospital, where he's made to feel like a star. Everyone from the valet staff to the greeters and medical providers knows him by name. "Obviously this was a huge decision for our family," says Ken. "But we've always been hopeful for Braxton's future and our medical team has been by our side every step of the way. "It's all been worth it," says Alysia.


Alysia works at UW Health as a trauma surgical nurse. She was nominated and selected as UW Health's Working Mother of the Year in 2015.