AHWATUKEE, Ariz. - A baby boy from Ahwatukee is in desperate need of an organ transplant to save his life. His family is also facing a huge financial burden, even with insurance coverage.
Little Elijah Velazquez was born with an extremely rare liver disease, and his parents say he’s basically surviving off of antibiotics right now.
He's the happiest baby she’s ever seen, says mom Shana Velazquez. That's despite being poked and prodded for most of his 7-month-old life.
“He looks into your soul," Velazquez said. "I always joked around with the nurses. I’m like, don’t look into his eyes for too long or he’ll take a piece of your soul.”
Elijah was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease where bile is trapped in the liver.
“So your liver is working at an abnormally high pace to try and function correctly," Velazquez said.
Mom and Elijah are staying close to the Stanford, California hospital to be ready for a liver. Dad and sister are waiting at home in Ahwatukee.
"Dad is the sole provider right now," she said. "He works about 70-80 hours a week.”
Elijah’s aunt, Taryn Shappell, is helping her family team with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. So far, they’ve raised about $20,000 for Elijah and other kids like him.
“Health insurance pays for the majority of the medical needs, but there’s a lot of things that health insurance doesn’t pay for," Shappell said.
The Velazquez family has much further to go, so no one else has to turn down a potentially life-saving surgery.
If you’d like to help baby Elijah, visit www.COTAforTeamElijahV.com.