Little Warrior Celebrates First Birthday


Lisa Patrick

The Ashland Beacon


   Just after Christmas last year, Cameron Miller was admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital because he was a very distinct shade of yellow. He was eventually diagnosed with biliary atresia- a rare and potentially fatal disease that causes the liver to be unable to function correctly. 

   Just before he was five weeks old, Cameron underwent a major surgery to save his life. Surgeons performed the Kasai procedure which removed the blocked bile ducts in his liver and replaced them with a piece of his small intestine. That piece of intestine was then sewn onto his liver and became his new bile duct. They also removed the gallbladder; it was nothing more than a stone in his little body. 

   Since the procedure, Cameron has endured many ups and downs with his health. Having his intestine sewn to his liver sometimes results in infections at the site where they are attached. These infections require treatment with IV antibiotics that usually require a two-week hospital stay. He has also had two blood clots that developed on each end of a medical port that he was receiving antibiotics through. Shortly after the surgery, his hemoglobin levels dropped, and twice he had to receive blood transfusions. 

   This past summer, things finally started looking up a little for his health. Although still immunocompromised, he was able to move back home to Ashland instead of having to continue to live at the Ronald McDonald house beside Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. His big sister, Hayden, was very excited to have her baby brother back home. 

   Since moving home, he has only had one re-admission. He contracted a cold, causing him to spend a weekend in Cincinnati Children’s. A cold is a serious illness for a child with little immune system. Cameron recently lost his best friend, Riley, from the Ronald McDonald house. Riley came in contact with a child with RSV and it was more than her system was able to handle. Riley was terminal; the medical staff made her comfortable as she passed.

   He travels everywhere in a stroller with a special sign on it made just for him It says “I am very, very medically fragile. Please do not touch me!” The sign is so important because something simple for everyone else can be a disastrous for him.

   Cameron has undergone a lot of changes since coming home. He has learned to crawl and climb just like other children. He has physical therapists that come to his home to help him work on his weakened right side. He favors his right side just a little because his liver is still swollen. He is currently trying to learn to walk, but is not quite ready to let go and take off yet.

   Cameron recently turned one and celebrated with a Mickey Mouse themed party at Party Town in Ironton, Ohio. Although he couldn't eat pizza with everyone else due to having to follow a more regimented diet, he did get a two-tiered white smash cake. He had a lot of fun playing in the frosting and making a mess. The difference between Cameron and other toddlers with their cakes was that Cameron's cake had to be taken away once he got to the actual cake. It had too many carbs for his little damaged liver to process. 

   Cameron has had the good fortune to be included in activities that other children take for granted thanks to the kindness and understanding of others. He was able to ride ponies at the fall festival at Oakview Elementary school thanks to the kindness of the employees at the Blackhorse Farm. They happily rubbed hand sanitizer all over a leather saddle so that he could ride without fear of coming into contact with the germs left by other children. 

   When it was time to see Santa, Cameron attended the second annual Pajama Party, hosted by the Ashland Foundation for Children with Disabilities. Santa and Mrs. Claus had touched numerous children while wearing white gloves. When it was his turn, they removed their gloves and he was allowed to sit on the lap of Mrs. Claus because all the other children had been on Santa's lap. As a typical toddler, Cameron was most definitely not a fan. He cried and reached for his family to save him.

   Although doing better and gaining weight at home, Cameron still faces a long struggle ahead with his health. He has to take his liver bile orally every day because his liver will not produce it on its own. He will need a liver transplant somewhere around the age of two. Following his transplant, he will have to be on a high protein, low fat, low carb diet for the rest of his life. He will also never be able to receive a vaccine. Contact with an unvaccinated child could mean serious illness or death for him. For now, his large family will continue to shower him with all of the love and support that one little boy can possibly handle.

   To keep tabs on Cameron, follow him on Facebook at Cameron's Calvary.