Wisconsin ICU nurse donates liver to 8-year-old boy


WRIGHTSTOWN, Wis. (KCAU) — A couple in Wisconsin is overwhelmed with gratitude for a woman whose gift saved their son’s life.

A nurse made an organ donation to the 8-year-old when no other matching donor was available.

Until last April, 8-year-old Brayden Auten was your typical active, healthy boy and the youngest boy from Wrightstown ever to go to state in wrestling.

But then, the whirlwind that began when Brayden came home from school one day sick.

By the next night, he was at a children’s hospital in Milwaukee where doctors discovered an aggressive, unknown virus was attacking his liver.

“And then about two days later it just started going downhill and just kept going downhill,” said James Auten, Brayden’s Dad.

Within a week, young Brayden was fighting for his life.

“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,” James added.

“Started talking liver transplant and we just bawled our eyes out, we didn’t think it was going to get that far,” said Ruth Auten, Brayden’s mom.

Desperate to find a donor, the Autens posted Brayden’s story online, and the response was overwhelming.

“My brother, my sister, her family, everything,” James said. “They said they had so many people calling into their unit that they had to add an operator.”

Unfortunately, no match could be found and time was running out.

“We’re waiting there and just watching him get sicker, it was tough,” James mentioned.

“Hits you in the stomach, you don’t know what to do,” added Ruth.

The Autens say they prayed and their prayer was answered.

James went on and said, “Then we had the miracle, Cami, show up.”

Cami Lortiz, an ICU nurse in Milwaukee, who grew up in Denmark, learned she was a perfect match and volunteered to be a living donor.

“What she did was completely selfless and she saved his life, plain and simple,” James proceeded to say.

While Brayden spent the next two months recovering in Milwaukee, his parents were blown away by the love back home.

James also mentioned, “They set up fundraisers and everything for tournaments and just, it was really amazing to see the community support and the wrestling team came while we were gone and did our lawn and landscaping and came and saw him, it’s been pretty amazing.”

Brayden returned home in July and will go back to school with very few physical restrictions.

But first, the family has one order of unfinished business.

Ruth also added, “We can’t thank her enough, she’s a true miracle, we consider her one of us, one of our family.”

A family photoshoot with Brayden and Cami.

“The pictures say everything,” Ruth stated.

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