Cooper’s Story: 3-year-old Cooper gets lifesaving transplant


OWENSBORO, Ky (WEHT) Cooper McElvain has been isolated inside his home for entire life. Now, after waiting more than 3 years, Cooper has received a life-saving transplant and his family says he is getting healthier by the hour.

Cooper was born with Thymic Displasia, meaning he has almost no immune system. He was also born with Charge Syndrome, which means he needs a tracheostomy to breathe. When he was born in 2018, his parents, Alison and Wayne, were told he wouldn’t make it a year.

Baby Cooper needed surgery. His thymus didn’t work properly, leaving him vulnerable to even the common cold. His only hope was a surgery done exclusively at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. The surgery takes tissue from a donor thymus and is implanted into the quadriceps. 

Not only have Alison and Wayne fought to help Cooper survive by making tremendous sacrifices, they’ve also fought to get him his surgery. Working and appealing insurance decisions, they finally got him to Duke University.

Finally – Cooper got his surgery.

He’s expected to return to Owensboro soon, where his thymus may take several months to begin working, bolstering his immune system.

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