The Short of It
Mom Traci Tigue knew something was wrong with her newborn son, Brodie, and her motherly instincts led to his diagnosis. Then, she donated a portion of her liver to save his life.
Brodie Tigue was born a healthy baby boy. But just a few days later, Traci began to feel like something wasn't quite right. His skin looked "different" from his sister's, she told WBIR, and he had some yellow at the corners of his eyes. But when the family checked in with their pediatrician, they were assured everything was fine and were told the symptoms would eventually go away.
But then unexplained bruising surfaced and a small nodule emerged on the side of Brodie's body, and an alarming amount of blood appeared when his skin was nicked during a routine fingernail trimming. So Traci made an appointment with a new pediatrician on Sept. 9. And by Sept. 14, the intuitive mom finally had an answer: Brody had a condition called biliary artresia—which is when inflammation develops within the bile ducts around the time of birth—and he would need a liver transplant in order to survive.
Traci said her blood type matched to be a donor, but the transplant team warned her that donating a portion of her own liver would make it difficult for her to help Brodie with his recovery. As Traci wrestled with what to do, word of Brodie's condition began to spread, and the Tigues were suddenly inundated by family, friends and strangers who all wanted to help. In just days, 90 volunteers had registered to donate a portion of their livers if they proved to be a match.
"To know that that many people are there for you to save the life of your little guy, how can you describe that?" Traci asked. "It's the good stuff. lt is the very good stuff."
Supporters started calling themselves "Brodie's Good Vibe Tribe" on social media, and the Tigues began selling BGVT apparel. A GoFundMe page was set up to help raise money for the enormous out-of-pocket expenses the family would face, and donations poured in. The outpouring of support helped the Tigues make the decision to go forward: Traci would donate 30 percent of her liver—a "liver sliver" she calls it—to Brodie. And on Oct. 19, Traci and Brodie, with different teams of Cleveland Clinic doctors, each underwent 10 hours of surgery.
One month after surgery, Brodie is a bright-eyed, happy and resilient baby on the mend, and the Tigues are living proof that living donors work.
"To save a life, the gift of saving a life, who can say that they have done that? Not enough of us," said Traci.