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Sauquoit Parents Drive Through Winter Storm Stella to Save Son’s Life

Dana Jerzak
Dana Jerzak

Most central New Yorkers will remember Stella as the biggest snow storm on record but one Sauquoit family will remember it as the day God saved their son.

17 month old Gavin was born with Biliary Atresia, a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts. His parents, Dana and Fred Jerzak have been patiently waiting and praying for a new liver to save his life. Their prayers were answered in the height of Stella. “Getting the call was so shocking because we’ve had two false alarms in the past, so we weren’t getting too excited,” says Dana. “When the doctor called back and said ‘ok drive’ we panicked. We weren’t sure how the heck we would make it in the thick of Stella, but we knew we needed to get him there.”

Gavin had to be at Boston Children’s Hospital for the life saving transplant, but Stella was closing roads. “It was a mess,” says Dana. “The snow was up to the wheel wells of our truck and I thought for sure we would get stuck. There were cars scattered all over each side of the road. It was unreal.”

Dana Jerzak
Dana Jerzak

The Jerzak’s arrived safely in Boston the next morning at 4:30 but had to wait all day to hear if the liver was a match for Gavin. “It was the most stressful nerve wrecking experience,” explains Dana. “We finally were told at 630pm the liver was an acceptable one and surgery would be 830ish. We were balling and just so emotional. The day we waited over a year for was finally here and it seemed so surreal. It still feels that way even now as I watch him sleep.”

Gavin came through the surgery with flying colors and Dana says she can already see a difference. “His belly is so much smaller already and his eyes are getting white. It’s unbelievable.”

After 17 months of dreading the worst and praying for the best, Dana and Fred are grateful for all the support. “The love and prayers from all of our family, friends, coworkers and community is simply overwhelming. It really got us through all this.”

The Jerzak’s are even more grateful to the family that saved Gavin’s life. “I don’t have words for the donor family,” says Dana. “I am truly blessed they said yes to organ donation and I just want to spread awareness to organ donation and what it does for families. It’s truly amazing and life changing.”

Gavin’s new liver even has a new name. Dana says they are calling it Stella. “We drove through Stella for our brave little fella so he could get his groove back.”

Dana Jerzak
Dana Jerzak

A campaign has been set up to help the family cover medical costs. You can donate at GoFundMe.com.

Learn more on organ donation at OrganDonor.gov.

Winter Storm Stella Stories

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