Willy and Shay Maxwell pose with their 10-year old son Gavin in their home in Sheridan recently. Gavin, who was born with a metabolic condition that leads to liver failure, is recovering at home from a liver transplant he received in St. Louis.
April 19, 2015 6:00 am • Lillian Schrock
Gavin Maxwell was allowed to shoot anyone, except for the people in white coats.
Sometimes he’d hide behind the nurse’s desk at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and ambush the men and women in scrubs with his Nerf gun. He always startled them. But they always laughed.
“All the nurses call dibs on who gets him as a patient,” his mother, Shay Maxwell, said. “For being in a children’s hospital, it was actually a lot of fun. Or, we made it as fun as we could.”
The 10-year-old Sheridan boy was born with a rare metabolic disease that causes liver failure. For most of his life, Gavin was able to do whatever he wanted: He was quarterback on his school’s flag football team, played basketball and walked the family’s three dogs with his older sisters, Taylin and Tayci.
But the red-headed boy with freckles and black-rimmed glasses couldn’t escape the disease he was diagnosed with at age 1. In March, after several months of enduring complications from the disease, Gavin traveled to St. Louis, where he received a new liver from a donor.
“All we know about him is that he was as big as me,” Gavin said.
In 2005, Shay and her husband, Willy, took Gavin to their pediatrician for his one-year wellness check. What was supposed to be routine turned into a wild goose chase. The doctor knew Gavin’s liver was enlarged, but he didn’t know why. Gavin’s parents took him to the children’s hospital in Denver.