(WXYZ) - When babies enter this world it's a joy beyond measure. Their tiny little bodies, so delicate, so fragile, but when something goes wrong, it's a horrifying moment you would not wish on anyone.
For Channel 7's Morning Meteorologist Keenan Smith, his wife Jamila and their 3-year-old son Grayson, that nightmare was thrust upon them soon after their second child was born.
"Everything looked good at his exam, they did the regular blood work just to keep an eye on the jaundice and our pediatrician called back at 7:00 that evening telling us go directly to the emergency room," Jamila said.
In an instant, his diagnosis would turn much more frightening than the yellowing of the eyes and skin as you'd see with a typical case of jaundice.
"The terms they were using at that point were liver failure and they were using really scary scary terms," said Keenan.
So scary in fact, baby Clarke was being seen by eight teams of doctors. Then Jamila says one day Clarke just fell off a cliff, he was unable to hold his head up, his arms and legs were completely limp.
Clarke's team was at the University of Michigan, but one night a mad dash to Beaumont's emergency room left them believing Clarke was in dire trouble. Keenan said at the end of it all, they were told that he had end stage liver failure.
Jamila said she was in denial. Little Clarke was rushed back to his team of doctors at U of M because they knew his case best.
At that point, we wanted to know were doctors telling the Smiths they could lose their child? Keenan and Jamila said while they didn't say that, the words end-stage said it all, but even then they were not prepared to believe they could lose their child.
Clarke could not digest formula so he was fed intravenously, but his tiny body was in rejection mode. His mom says - had this been 30 years ago, Clarke's outcome likely would have been much different.
Doctors said Clarke would need a new liver, but he could not go on the organ transplant list until he got strong enough to accept a new liver. The wait was grueling.
"I think the hardest thing was on Christmas day when we wanted to all be at the hospital together, so we could be, so that we could be together as a family and Grayson got this train set for Christmas and he was really excited so he's opening the train set and we are trying to be excited for him at the same time my other child well, he was dying," said Jamila.
Jamila remained on guard at the hospital, Grayson was being cared for by a loving family from his school, and in the midst of it all, Keenan was going back and forth to work.
Keenan would sleep overnight in the hospital in a chair and then get up in the middle of the night go to work at 7 Action News," said Jamila.
Then after two months of fear, tears, and worry, finally word of an organ. The call came in the middle of the night, the hospital had a liver and the rush was on to Ann Arbor for surgery.
Today, you wouldn't know to look at little Clarke that his body has gone through so much. Medication keeps him from rejecting his new liver, and both Jamila and Keenan say his big brother Grayson has been responsible for much of his baby brother's quick recovery.
The Smiths are so grateful, they have a message for others contemplating organ donation.
"It literally transforms not just the life of the person who gets the organ but everyone around them everyone that they're related to, their husband, wives, sons, families. It's a gift that's hard to even quantify the number of people it touches," Keenan says.
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