After Liver Transplant, 5-Year-Old Celebrates the Gift of Life With San Francisco Giants

Nolan at SF Giant's game

Partnering on Organ Donor Awareness

“Play ball!” 5-year-old Nolan Bryant yelled out as he called the start of a San Francisco Giants baseball game.

It was a tall order for a kindergartner, especially since Nolan was still recovering from a liver transplant 10 months earlier at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Nolan represented organ donor recipients at the San Francisco Giants’ 23rd Annual Organ Donor Awareness Day on Sept. 14, also known as Donate Life Day.  

Oracle Park sign welcoming Lucile Packard transplant patients and families

“Nolan received a liver transplant last November, two days before his fifth birthday,” said his mom, Mandy, from Chico, California. “Most 4-year-olds ask for Legos for their birthdays. Nolan asked for a liver—the gift of life.”

Nolan is doing very well, thanks to the speedy diagnosis, transplant surgery, and care he received at the Pediatric Transplant Center. The center has performed more than 2,000 liver, heart, lung, kidney, and intestine transplants with more than 25 years of experience, including the most complex cases and multiple organ transplants from around the country.

Saving lives through organ donation

Nolan with Lou Seal mascot

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has partnered with the SF Giants on Organ Donor Awareness Day since 1998, according to event co-founder John Kerner, MD, a gastroenterologist on Nolan’s care team. “It’s a great opportunity to celebrate lives that have been saved through organ donation and to raise awareness for the importance of being a donor,” Dr. Kerner said.

Nolan was one of four organ recipients at the game, who were all treated as VIPs, Dr. Kerner added, receiving tickets for family and friends and assorted SF Giants swag. The Bryants are enthusiastic baseball fans and invited Nolan’s kindergarten teacher to join them. One of the highlights was a third-inning scoreboard message recognizing the group.

While this was a fun day for Nolan, the past 10 months had not been easy, as he was limited in doing “kid stuff,” according to his mom. “Always a healthy, active, outgoing kid, in mid-October 2021, he suddenly went into acute liver failure for a reason that is still unknown. Ten days later he received a full liver transplant.”

She continued: “Having fun is an intentional mindset we try to live by. This past year has been hard—a kind of hard that nobody wants or should ever have. But Nolan does it well, and we’re so proud of him. We’ve watched him grow and transition into the new realities of his life and are so grateful to see his playful spirit again as we navigate forward,” said Mandy.

It is estimated that 500–600 cases of pediatric acute liver failure (PALF) occur per year in the United States (JPGN 2022; 74:138–158). Forty to 60 percent of those cases are idiopathic (no known cause after extensive testing), as was the case for Nolan.

Grateful for a good patient experience

Nick and Mandy, Nolan’s parents, are grateful to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health for Nolan’s excellent outcome and for assuring a good patient experience for the entire family. In addition to a world-class team of transplant specialists, a hallmark of the Pediatric Transplant Center is family-centered care and extensive support and resources.

“The sudden shock, speed, and severity of Nolan’s illness turned our world upside down and will forever be something that he’ll have to manage,” said Mandy. “We try to focus on the positive and the purpose of our actions to honor the second chance he has been given. We live in humbled gratitude daily for the donor and their family.”

To learn more

For more information about organ transplants or being a donor, visit Donor Network West or Visit the Pediatric Transplant Center to learn more.


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