Matthew Ouimet got a thumbs-up from his doctors Wednesday after a three-hour surgery at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in San Francisco.
Surgeons, in a planned procedure performed seven days after the 2-year-old Antioch boy received a double transplant during a 13-hour operation, implanted a feeding tube, closed the original incision and biopsied the donated kidney and liver. Results of the biopsy showed no signs that Matthew's body is rejecting its new organs.
Wednesday's surgery began shortly after 8:30 a.m. Matthew, whose thumbs-up gestures brought tears to his family's eyes before and after the transplant surgery, was back in ICU before noon.
"Everything is looking good," said Kristi Ouimet, Matthew's mother, after she and her husband Kelly met with surgeon Dr. John Roberts. "They were able to close his belly. They got the G (feeding) tube in. It's the first time all week that we were able to breathe a sigh of relief and feel like we're on the road to recovery. This last week was just so scary, with all the things that were happening and knowing we still had this operation to come. Now we know he's recuperating."
Roberts told the Ouimets that "if all goes well" Matthew could be moved from ICU to a recovery room in as little as two days. The move will depend on his body being able to get by on mere four-hour dialysis treatments instead requiring 24-hour treatments which are administered only in ICU.
Timing isn't as important to Kristi Ouimet as knowing her son has passed a medical milestone.
"The whole journey's been, we're going to do this until we get the transplant," she said. "But we didn't really think beyond that. I kind of catch myself thinking now about what life is going to be like after he's discharged. There's going to be a day when the little guy is going to get to take a bath or go swimming. That light is there. We've got kind of a time frame for it. It's not just, someday this might happen."
For the time being, however, Kristi and Kelly will continue to call the hospital home.
"He's mad, he's uncomfortable, he's confused, he hurts," Kristi Ouimet said of Matthew. "But we know this is all a healing thing now."
That's a far cry from the anxious moments in the hours after the transplant surgery, when Matthew suffered some internal bleeding and his transplanted kidney and liver took longer than expected to function. Gradually he began showing steady signs of recovery, becoming more alert and breathing on his own. Born with the genetic condition primary hyperoxaluria Type 1, in which a defect in the liver compromises the kidneys, Matthew continued post-transplant the dialysis treatments he has received for almost two years.
But as the toddler became more alert, he experienced increased pain.
"He has shivers," Kristi Ouimet wrote in a Facebook post, "and says 'owie' and 'mommy save me' ... breaks my heart."
In addition to several family members who have visited him in ICU, Matthew and the Ouimet family have received moral support from all over the world. On Friday, Kristi Ouimet asked followers on her Facebook page to write where they are from. She received 484 responses from all over California, 26 other states and five other countries -- Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, England (from a woman whose son has primary hyperoxaluria Type II) and Spain.
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/garyscribe.