Brayden Auten, was a brilliant Wrightstown athlete and one of the youngest ever to participate at a state meet for wrestling, but his life was about to change forever after coming home early from school one day with symptoms of a stomachache and diarrhea.
His parents, James and Ruth Auten, saw a yellow tint in his eyes and decided to take him to a primary care clinic, after that he was admitted to the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, where doctors found a mysterious virus attacking his liver.
Auten was put on the list to get a liver transplant after he was diagnosed with liver failure. “It was the Sunday after we got there. They finally looked at us, they’re like, ‘We’re bypassing everything. He’s going on the list tonight,'” Auten’s father said.
None of his family members or friends were found to be a match, but Cami Loritz, 25, a nurse at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, who is part of a living donor registry found out that she was a match. The Auten family were relieved that Loritz agreed to be a donor.
“Since the adult patient population I care for can only receive full organs from deceased donors, I was amazed by the concept that two people go into this alive and two come out alive,” Loritz wrote in an email. She added, “My dad also donated his kidney to his brother in 2016, and the impact it had on our families was amazing to be a part of and I wanted to do that for another family as well.”
James Auten and his wife were “overjoyed” that a match had been found, but were “terrified” because it was a risky procedure as in the case of the kidneys, a dialysis machine can be used to function, there is no medical device that can perform the functions of the liver.
So, a part of Loritz’s liver was removed and transplanted into Auten. The liver is the only organ capable of regenerating itself, the donor’s and recipient’s liver ultimately grow back to its original size, within a year.
The surgery was successful and while Auten hasn’t fully recovered, he’s getting better everyday and he’s already back to school.
“The transplant team I work with performed the operation and I was cared for in the TICU for 9 days by my lovely coworkers,” Loritz said. “They are a huge reason why all this was possible. I’ve seen them do amazing things and I trusted them 100%. They’re the reason I wasn’t worried about going through with the donation.”
Loritz also planned to meet with the Auten family after donating her liver anonymously. Loritz met Auten for the first time and said the moment was “heartwarming.” She added, “They make me feel a part of the family. I look forward to it every time!” Loritz said. “Being with them definitely makes the whole situation feel complete.”
Brayden cannot understand the sacrifice Loritz made for him, and the risks she took to save his life, but dad, James Auten says that he looks up to her and treats her like an older sister. “We can’t thank her enough. She’s a true miracle. We consider her one of us, one of our family,” Ruth Auten said.
Cami Loritz gave Brayden the gift of life and a second chance at fulfilling all his life’s dreams and goals. Organ donation should be encouraged more than ever in our country.