With a transplant being his only chance at survival, the baby's parents never thought somebody from another part of the country would show up to save his life.
Father and grandfather, Michael Speck, had already helped save the life of a minister by donating a kidney to him a few years back. Now, the 64-year-old man has given the gift of healthy life to a 10-month-old baby born with a rare disease.
Until a few months ago, Michael was a complete stranger to the Cooper family. After he volunteered to have a part of his liver donated, Michael broke down when he found out he would help save the life of a baby boy named Jacob Cooper, who was only about 10 months old at the time. Born in December 2019, baby Cooper suffers from biliary atresia and needed a liver transplant to have a fair shot at life.
"The surgeon told me it was a little 10-month-old baby. When I found that out I just burst out crying," said Michael, as reported by WRBL.
Baby Receives Life-Saving Liver Donation, Thanks to Kind Stranger Who Traveled 2,000 Miles in a Pandemic https://t.co/XiwBzR7blG— Inside Edition (@InsideEdition) December 26, 2020
When Jacob's parents, Chad and Aileen heard about the news, they were ecstatic because they knew that a liver transplant was the only way their son would have any chance at survival. "He was getting progressively sicker. He was hospitalized with infection prior to transplant. He was critically ill," said Dr. Yuri Genyk at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
In October, Michael traveled around 2,000 miles, during the pandemic, all the way from Ohio to Los Angeles to give the doctors what they needed to save the baby's life. Thankfully, the transplant was a success and Jacob's parents received the greatest Christmas they could have ever asked for—the good health of their son.
"There's no words that can describe how thankful we are to you Michael, you saved our son's life," Aileen said on a video call, as reported by CBS News.
"It's my honor," Michael replied to the grateful mother.
Initially, when Chad and Aileen were told that their son would need a transplant, the father immediately volunteered to help save their boy's life. However, the doctors found a benign tumor when they ran tests on the father. "In the CT scan and MRI we found a mass near your pelvis, and this needs to be seen right away," Chad said as he recalled the words of his doctors.
After it was deemed that Chad and Aileen could not step in as donors, a man from another part of the country had the heart to offer a part of his liver.
"Your son is born with an issue, and then somebody from across the country you have never met shows up to save his life," Chad said about Michael during the video call.
Michael, who was glad he could do something to save a child's life, said during the call, "There's so many people out there that can do the same thing I did."
As he spoke to Jacob's parents, Michael added, "To be able to donate to a child… it's a miracle," to which Chad and Aileen responded by saying that he was the miracle they needed.
"It's all worthwhile seeing you guys," Michael said.
Jacob, who is now a year old, is doing well while his father, Chad, who underwent surgery to remove his benign tumor in Novenber, is also in good health.
After Jacob's liver transplant surgery in December, 2020, the little one who simply loves to smile gave a big one soon after he came out of the four-hour surgery.
Chad said in a report released by the Children's Hospital Los Angeles, "He is super happy. He finds joy in everything. He smiles and then you smile, and it’s contagious."