Matthew Ouimet has been confronted with a new and daunting challenge in his recovery from double transplant surgery. Antioch residents Kelly and Kristi Ouimet were told Friday that an MRI exam revealed their 2-year-old son has suffered a series of small strokes, leaving him with only partial use of his right arm.
"We're just taking each obstacle as it comes up," Kristi Ouimet said by phone Friday from UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, where Matthew is in the intensive care unit.
Matthew has encountered a slew of obstacles since he received a donated liver and kidney in a 13-hour surgery that ended in the early morning of June 5 -- three follow-up surgeries (one planned, one to stitch a laceration caused when Matthew bit his tongue, and one to fix a bile duct leak); internal bleeding; fever; the parainfluenza 3 virus; respiratory issues; fluid buildup inside his abdomen, and a dose of what his mom described as "super bad diaper rash."
It was after Matthew's July 3 surgery to repair his bile duct leak, Kristi Ouimet said, "that we noticed, that arm isn't moving."
The cause and nature of the affliction to his arm was difficult to determine because Matthew was sedated after the surgery. The MRI of Matthew's brain confirmed doctors' suspicions.
"The word 'stroke' had been tossed around," Kristi Ouimet said. "It made sense to me. When they told me, I expected it."
She said his arm has shown more strength over the past week -- "He still can't do a thumbs-up," she said -- but when it comes to a long-term prognosis, "we just don't know."
Physical therapists will be working with Matthew, Kristi Ouimet said.
Friday's sobering news came one day before the two-year anniversary of the start of Matthew's medical odyssey. It was July 13, 2011, when Kristi Ouimet, concerned over Matthew's persistent lethargy, took him to the doctor. He was referred to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure.
"And the famous line," Kelly Ouimet recalled last November, "'You can't go home with him, but you can't stay here.'"
An ambulance transported Matthew, who was born with the genetic condition primary hyperoxaluria Type 1, to UCSF. There he was stabilized, discharged and placed on a six-times-per-week dialysis regimen while he awaited a life-sustaining liver and kidney transplant. He was officially placed on the liver transplant list when he reached 22 pounds. Thirteen months later, he was matched with compatible organs.
Friday's news also came at a time when Matthew seemed to be rallying from his most recent surgery, according to his mother. A breathing tube, in place since his last surgery, was removed Friday afternoon.
"He looks better. He's not as swollen," Kristi Ouimet said. "The last few days, I see him turning a corner. He's more alert. He hasn't been talking a lot, but those little eyes are saying so much."
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/garyscribe.