• Last modified 2280 days ago (March 29, 2018)


Jantz family cares for child waiting for liver transplant

Staff writer

When Eli Jantz, 3, was born, it didn’t take long to realize something was wrong.

Eli has idiopathic neonatal hepatitis — obstructive jaundice associated with giant cell transformation in the liver, which rapidly progressed into pediatric end stage liver disease.

Eli is the youngest child of Kelvin and Kristi Jantz of Burns, and brother to Connor, Addi, and Dom.

Warning signs were obvious to doctors even before Eli was born.

“His cystic fibrosis screen came back positive and then they did another one,” Kristi said.

Birth brought more warning signs that something was seriously wrong.

“He had jaundice after 24 hours,” Kristi said.

Eli ate but could not keep anything down, she said.

“He cried and cried and cried and cried,” Kristi said.

Soon after Eli’s birth his primary physician went on an extended vacation.

When she came back and saw Eli for his one-month checkup, she was concerned and ordered testing because of his continued jaundice.

A lengthy and grueling series of medical tests seemed to show a number of problems, usually ruled out later.

At various times, doctors suspected biliary atresia — a disease of the liver in which one or more bile ducts are abnormally narrow, blocked, or absent, lack of a gall bladder, and a mass in his upper abdomen which a biopsy showed was not cancerous. Still, the family had no answers.

“He was very thin, was not gaining weight,” Kristi said.

Then a biopsy showed Eli had hepatitis.

“Many kids with neonatal hepatitis simply grow out of it within 6 months,” Kristi said. “We were hoping he would just grow out of it.”

Eli had to be given enzymes with his food for six months.

He developed intestinal bleeding, caused by abnormally dilated blood vessels known as varicies.

Eli wasn’t dealing with his health issues well, and spent a large amount of time hospitalized.

“He was very fussy for a couple months,” Kristi said. “He was home again and he’d had a really rough week and that was really getting pretty common. He went unresponsive.”

Back to University of Kansas Medical Center.

After the cancer scare physicians started talking about a liver transplant.

“Doctors said he will be transplanted before 2,” Kristi said. “He’s not better but he has defied the odds like crazy.”

Eli takes 12 medications twice daily for nutritional support, removal of fluid buildup, bioacid therapy, high blood pressure, bleeding, and itching caused by bioacid buildup.

“He was actually a million-dollar-baby the first year of life,” Kristi said.

The family waits for the time to be right for a liver transplant as they struggle to cover Eli’s medical expenses along the way.

A page on the website called “Eli Jantz’s Journey To A New Liver” provides a way to help with those expenses.

At this time the goal is $50,000, which is one year’s expenses during Eli’s wait. Kristi said she’ll probably reset the goal.

Last modified March 29, 2018