BY TIM STEERE / TIMS@LARAMIEBOOMERANG.COM • SUNDAY, MARCH 01, 2015
Keegan Cook, 6, underwent a liver transplant at Children’s Hospital Colorado at 3 years old after he was born with biliary atresia, a condition that is damaging to the liver. JEREMY MARTIN/Boomerang photographer
At first glance, Keegan Cook, 6, is like any other kid his age. The Laramie youth loves to swim, play with his Star Wars and Toy Story action figures and bounce on the Cook family couch to prepare for his backflips into the pool. However, underneath all of Keegan’s favorite pastimes, is the story of a young boy who walked the line between life and death — and beat the odds.
When he was born, Keegan’s skin tone was noticeably yellow, usually a sign of infantile jaundice, or an excess of a yellow pigment in red blood cells. He cried frequently. He struggled to grow and maintain weight. Doctors kept telling his parents, Kenneth and Stacey, not to worry. As the tears continued to roll down Keegan’s plump, yellow-tinted face, the Cooks couldn’t help but do exactly what the doctors told them not to: worry.
“I took him to the pediatrician about once a week,” Stacey said. “He cried all the time. We found out he was actually hungry because he had fat malabsorption. He wasn’t absorbing any of the fat and nutrients from what he was eating, so it was like he was starving. He was hungry all the time because his liver wasn’t absorbing all the things it should have been.”