Halloween is supposed to be fun for kids, especially if it lands on their birthday.
But for one little boy, Oct. 31 will always be the day he got a life-changing treat.
And this year will finally be different.
French fries, chicken nuggets and burgers: it’s all soon-to-be 7-year-old Patrick Hoopes eats.
“And bacon,” added Dr. Alan Langnas. “So I completely respect that.”
And his parents and his doctor couldn’t be happier.
That’s because until eight months ago, Patrick could only eat through a tube. He was born with a condition called gastroschisis, which means his intestines were outside of his abdomen.
His parents, Emily and Brian Hoopes, knew this and the challenges they would face when they adopted Patrick when he was 5 days old.
“I remember rocking and singing to him and thinking ‘God, how can you go through this if you don’t have a mom to sit with you in the hospital and rock and sing to you?'” Emily Hoopes said.
Many more hospital visits followed.
They got Patrick on a transplant waiting list.
“We waited and we waited,” Emily Hoopes said.
Then the family began to run out of time and options.
“We knew we were at the last site that they would get an IV into,” Emily Hoopes said. “That’s when we contacted Nebraska Medicine because the center we were at really didn’t have a solution.”
Nebraska Medicine preforms the most intestinal transplants in the world.
Within 18 months, the day before Patrick’s sixth birthday, they got the call.
“We hopped on a Life Flight plane and flew out here,” Emily Hoopes said.
A year later after a receiving a liver, pancreas and small bowel, Patrick returned to Omaha.
“Hi. Hi, how are you? My goodness you I haven’t seen you in forever,” Patrick said during a checkup.
“Obviously as you can see he is doing fantastic,” Langnas said.
Perhaps Patrick may even get to eat trick-or-treat candy this year for the first time.
“And (to) be a little more like other kids is an amazing thing, an amazing gift,” said Brian Hoopes.