By Amber Fosler, recipient mom

On February 26, 2014, my seven-month old son Elias received the Gift of Life – a liver transplant. This was a gift from my husband’s cousin, Zac, who selflessly donated a portion of his liver when Elias ran out of time waiting on the transplant list. Not a day has gone by that we don’t think about Zac and what he did for Elias and our family.

Elias FoslerBecause of Zac, we have watched Elias overcome every challenge thrown his way. He learned to sit up, crawl and then take a few tentative steps all without his abdominal muscles. Because Elias received a portion of an adult liver, and he was only about twelve pounds at transplant, the liver didn’t fit. It wasn’t until October, more than seven months post-transplant, that surgery was done to close his abdominal muscles. Elias endured a very painful recovery from that surgery, but being the fighter he is, he was still smiling and working hard to catch up.

SplitDespite a minor set-back in December that required a brief hospital stay and several weeks of supplemental feedings via a feeding tube, Elias started walking on his own. We had to chase after him carrying the bag that contained the feeding pump but he didn’t let that hold him back – he  was one determined, spunky little boy!

Elias hairEverything is a new adventure to him. Elias is now nineteen months old and all boy. He is sweet and silly, wild and ornery. Unrolling the toilet paper, splashing in the cat’s water bowl and running laps around the house are a common occurrence now.

Because of Zac, Elias got to celebrate his first birthday in July. He got to “run” in his first 5k race, the Dash for Donation, to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation. He went to the zoo for the first time. He takes swim lessons. He is enjoying trying new foods. He is learning to talk and adds new words and sounds on a daily basis.

Because of Zac, Elias has the opportunity to experience all of the wonderful things the world has to offer and my husband and I have the joy of having a front row seat for all of it! Because of Zac, we have a new perspective on life. The bumps in the road we’ve had this year are nothing compared to what could have been if Zac had not donated. Elias2

We hope our story encourages everyone in Ohio to become a registered organ, eye and tissue donor. You won’t need them after you’re gone! One donor can save eight lives and change the lives of more than 50 people. One selfless act can give hope to families like ours.