All of us for Alex Fast

 
About Alex Fast and COTA
 
With the cost of a transplant often exceeding $500,000, many transplant families are unable to shoulder the financial burden of such a procedure.  The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) is a national charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-needy patients. In St. Augustine, volunteers are raising funds for transplant patients like local teen, Alex Fast.
 
All donations are tax deductible and 100% of every dollar donated will benefit COTA in honor of Alex to assist with transplant-related expenses 
 
Born on November 22, 1997, Alex was diagnosed with primary schlerosing cholangitis.  The doctors at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, have recommended a life-saving liver transplant.  An estimated $70,000 is being raised by St. Augustine volunteers.
 
Alex is interested in collecting coins, stamps, baseball cards and foreign currency.  His favorite sport is soccer and his favorite team is the GATORS (though obviously not a soccer team)!  He loves alternative and pop music. His favorite band is "The Lonely Island".  He loves to eat sweet red peppers, hummus, quail and mussels in white sauce from his favorite restaurant, the Purple Olive.  He loves root beer, especially Virgils, and also loves watching the History Channel and true crime dramas.  He also dearly loves his dog, Ali and cat, Shira, Princess of Power.
 
 
The Story of Alex Fast’s illness by Michelle Smith (his mom).
 
Alex was at his two year old checkup when I mentioned to his doctor that his stomach was distended, and he sent us to get blood-work.   The next day, December 2, 1999, I was called and told that there was a significant problem with his blood-work, and that he had an appointment with the Gastrointestinal Dept. in Jacksonville, Florida to follow up.  After about 5 months of continuous tests, they diagnosed Alex with an autoimmune disease called Primary Schlerosing Cholangitis, in which one’s own body attacks itself  (in this case, Alex’s bile duct that leads from his liver and carries bile acids made in the liver out to the rest of the digestive tract to help dissolve fats, etc.)  This causes the bile acids to remain in the liver, and destroy it.  Alex was also diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at the same time which attacks the large intestine, and often occurs with the first disease. 
 
He was treated with medication and hospital visits until his liver could no longer function well, and he vomited blood.  He was listed for a liver transplant in the Fall of 2004, and received his first liver transplant on January 3, 2005 in St. Louis Missouri at Cardinal Glennon Childrens’ Hospital.  We found out that the wonderful girl that he got his liver from was named Elizabeth, and that she was in a car accident on the way home from a childrens’ mission.  I received a letter from her mother, who told us that Elizabeth was 16, loved the color blue, and chocolate chip cookies with no chocolate chips, and that she loved music.  No words can express how grateful we are to Elizabeth’s family for their generosity at such a time of grief.
After his liver transplant, Alex had to have more surgery in St. Louis for a perforated colon (5 total surgeries in 2005).  They told us his disease had already returned within that 5 months.  We have been trying many different IV treatments at Shands in Gainesville, as well as chemotherapy, and surgically inserting a drain into Alex’s bile duct to keep it from closing, to no avail.  His liver is being destroyed from his disease yet again. 
 
Because of the amount of immune suppression medications that Alex takes, he is very prone to opportunistic infections, and is fighting his second long term bout of both lung and liver infections, this time both fungal and bacterial.  He cannot be listed for a liver transplant until the infection in his lung is cleared.  He has 5 IV medications per day that run through a port (which is accessed by his heart).  We hope to get the infections cleared up, and successfully go onto the next chapter of our story.
 
Thank you,
Michelle Smith (Alex Fast’s mom)