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Superhero benefit is for 9-year-old liver recipient


November 11, 2015

A group of therapists from Providence Regional Medical Center are hosting a silent and live auction Saturday, Nov. 14, to benefit 9-year-old Monty Huesca.

Monty Huesca is one mighty 9-year-old: His nickname is “The Hulk,” and he has a new liver.

He said it’s helped him to recover from liver failure and a transplant surgery by pretending he’s a superhero.

“I sometimes play these games where you’re a superhero, and when I’m playing like I’m a superhero, it makes me feel like I can do anything in the world,” he said.

Monty was diagnosed with acute liver failure on July 1 at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Doctors told his parents that for 50 percent of children, they’ll never know why their livers failed.

A Monty’s Heroes Silent and Live Auction will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at The Duvall Tavern, in which all proceeds will benefit Monty. Tickets are $30 each. Dress up as a superhero to go along with the theme.

Monty’s Heroes are a group of rehabilitation therapists at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett – many of whom are from Mukilteo – who have partnered with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association to host the fundraiser. The group’s goal is to raise $75,000 to help cover Monty’s medical bills.

“He is just all about superheroes, so when we were getting organized we thought it would be nice to bring in something he loves as the overall theme of the event,” said Kirstin Mueller, one of the members of the group. “It’s not mandatory, but if you want to dress up as a superhero, that’s more than welcome.”

After a cold had persisted for nearly all of June, Monty’s eyes turned yellow. He was transported immediately to the hospital. He was 8 at the time.

“We were admitted all within 24 hours of me noticing his eyes were yellow,” said Robin Huesca, Monty’s mom. “The next day, doctors were talking about liver failure and transplants.”

Doctors discovered that Monty had a rare autoimmune reaction that affects only 1 in 17 million children. The cause is unknown.

After catching a cold, the body’s immune response to the virus does not shut off and aggressively attacks a vital organ. For Monty, it was his liver.

At the hospital, Monty’s liver failure continued to progress to the point where he could no longer recognize his family and fell into a coma. Monty was dying. He needed a liver transplant.

“He didn’t have any more time,” Huesca said. “The rest of his body was failing. We were waiting for a donor, and he was getting sicker and sicker. It was horrible.”

On July 12, Monty was at the top of the organ donor’s list, and doctors performed a liver transplant to save Monty’s life.

All seemed well until he didn’t wake up after surgery. Monty suffered a collapsed lung and needed to stay on a ventilator to breathe.

Eventually, Monty woke up and breathed on his own, but he was hallucinating and agitated by all of the leftover toxins in his body. He was too weak to lift his head or move his arms and legs. He couldn’t even talk.

“He woke up dancing,” said Huesca, though she added it looked more like a seizure. “He had a toy from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in his lap. I didn’t realize he was dancing like [in the movie]. It was the best moment ever. He knew who I was, and he was dancing.”

After three weeks of physical, occupational and speech therapy at the hospital, Monty was discharged Aug. 18. He returned to his home in Kirkland.

He has made a lot of progress with therapy, but still needs help dressing, bathing, playing and writing. He walks around the house, but rides in a wheelchair when he is out.

Monty's recovery has been complicated by infection, neurotoxicity, myopathy, high blood pressure, psychosocial stress, and bile duct failure requiring stent placement.

At first, Monty had so many doctor and therapy appointments each week that he often was at the Children’s Hospital for 10 hours per day. He also had to take 40 different medications and have multiple blood draws to closely monitor his liver function.

These days, he has just 5-6 appointments a week and fewer blood draws. But Monty is not able to go back to school yet.

His family does not know what each year will hold, as doctors told them to expect rejection and infection throughout his life. The risk is highest within the first year.

The mortality rate for children with organ transplants is unsettling: Nineteen children out of 100 die within three years. The doctors expect Monty to live.

As the cost of organ transplants often exceed $500,000, the Children’s Organ Transplant Association helps families pay for the procedure.

Except that $500,000 doesn’t include the thousands of dollars needed for his medication, transportation back and forth to the hospital or the income lost now that he needs a stay-at-home parent to care for him.

Huesca is the former co-worker of the rehabilitation therapists at Providence who are fundraising in Monty’s honor.

“We’re a pretty close-knit group in the rehabilitation department,” said Mueller, who is from Mukilteo. “Robin is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. We knew her husband and her son.

“Even though she ended up working somewhere else, when this happened, we still wanted very much to support her.”

Monty’s Heroes also hung out with the family at the hospital, set up a hot meals schedule and shopped for school supplies for Monty’s brother, Brennan, who is 7.

“They are an amazing group of people,” Huesca said. “Jose (her husband) and I through this whole thing have never felt alone. We are supported by our friends and our community. We are so blessed.

“The group at Providence is my family. You choose who your family is, and they are my family.”

Monty loves building with Legos, playing baseball and watching football, especially the Seahawks. He also enjoys playing video games with his brother.

His Make-A-Wish is to go to the Legoland theme park in Florida to meet Lego engineers and design and build his own Lego set. He wants to make a Minions-themed set and a “fart gun.”

Even more than Legos, though, Monty loves superheroes. The Incredible Hulk is his favorite.

“I like that they save the day,” Monty said. “Some superheroes don’t even look like a hero, but they really are.”

He plans to wear a superhero cape to the Nov. 14 event. He’s super excited about it.

Monty’s Heroes

The Monty Huesca benefit will feature live and silent auctions, a catered dinner, no-host bar, a wine ring toss, dessert dash and raffle prizes.

The Duvall Tavern is at 15807 Main St. in Duvall. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m .; live auction is at 7 p.m.

Purchase tickets by calling 206-715-4866 or emailing montysheroes2015@gmail.com. Limited to 150 seats.

Can’t go but want to donate? Visit http://cota.donorpages.com/PatientOnlineDonation/COTAforMontyH.


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