For Bailey Frair and his family, there’s much to be thankful for this holiday season. For one, Bailey is home, healthy and finally living the life he has always dreamed of after receiving a rare combined liver and kidney transplant at Levine Children’s Hospital earlier this year.

News | 24 days ago

Combined Liver-Kidney Transplant Makes Hospital History


Learn how Levine Children’s Hospital doctors joined forces to save a teen’s life.

Update: Combined Liver-Kidney Transplant Recipient is Happy to Be Home

For Bailey Frair and his family, there’s much to be thankful for this holiday season. For one, Bailey is home and healthy, following his combined liver-kidney transplant. Now that he no longer spends three days a week in dialysis, he has more freedom – and time – to live the life he's always dreamed of.


In many ways, Bailey is a normal teenage boy. He likes joking around, playing computer games and he even hopes for the day he’ll get his driver’s license and his mom will let him drive her new car. But what’s been normal for Bailey isn’t normal for most kids his age. While other teenagers are spending their days at school and going to football games, much of Bailey’s life up to now has revolved around his dialysis treatments. And what’s more, at just 17 years of age, he’s made medical history – twice. 

The first time was more than 16 years ago, and it started before Bailey was even born.

“When I was pregnant and I had my first ultrasound that you could actually tell he was a baby, they saw something wrong,” recalls Lisa Belcher, Bailey’s mom. Shortly after his birth, doctors diagnosed Bailey with a rare liver disorder called biliary atresia – and treatment required a liver transplant.

At just six months, the tiny baby boy became the youngest patient in Levine Children’s Hospital history to receive a liver transplant. This was the first time Bailey made medical history. The second came years later, when his liver started to fail. At that time, he also developed a rare form of nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disorder that requires dialysis and causes kidney failure. 

These complications led to the teenager’s second historic transplant – and earlier this year, Bailey became the first patient at LCH to undergo a combined liver-kidney transplant. 

Rare Transplant, Renewed Life for Bailey

As few as 10 multiple-organ transplants are performed worldwide each year, making Bailey’s liver-kidney transplant quite rare. Doctors performed Bailey’s lengthy transplant surgery in July, and they expect him to make a full recovery.

Susan Massengill, MD, head of Levine Children’s Hospital’s Nephrology Center of Excellence, has cared for Bailey for more than a decade.

“Bailey had a lot of spillage of protein and blood in his urine, and that ultimately led to his need for a new liver and a new kidney,” says Dr. Massengill.

Many of the doctors and nurses have known Bailey since he was an infant, including Lon Eskind, MD, the surgeon who performed Bailey’s first liver transplant and also was involved in his second transplant.

“It gave us a lot of comfort knowing Dr. Eskind would be there for Bailey,” says Lisa. “He knew him inside and out – literally – so having him around made it so much better for us.”

“Being able to provide his ongoing care is not only a privilege for us, it speaks to the trust he and his family have in our medical and surgical teams,” says Dr. Massengill. “Like all of our patients, we treat Bailey like one of our own children and we want to make sure he has every chance to live an active and productive life.”

Organ Donation, A Lifesaving Gift

Because Bailey’s treatment involved a re-transplant, the operation was as challenging as it was risky.

“Complex cases like these highlight the collaboration that’s required for our care teams to give patients the very best chance at a good outcome,” says Jerome Menendez, MD, assistant vice president of transplant services. “But we should never lose sight of the importance of the organ donor and their family – and the fact that all those unselfish acts of kindness are truly what has given someone else’s loved one a chance at a better life.”

As challenging as the transplant surgeries were, the family and the medical team remained calm and confident.

“Bailey wasn’t worried, and there was just a sense of peace around everybody,” says Lisa. “He looked amazing as soon as he came out of the OR, and he was sitting up and walking within a couple of hours after surgery. It’s such a blessing.”

A Brighter Future for Bailey

Life after transplant will be dramatically improved for Bailey. He’ll no longer need to sit through hours of grueling dialysis treatments. He can go to school regularly, get his driver’s license, and eat and drink all the foods teenagers love – just in time for the holidays. With so much to be grateful for this holiday season, Bailey and his entire family are spending Thanksgiving together.

“Bailey’s family can look forward to a sense of normalcy as they return to a lifestyle that’s not dictated by the constraints of dialysis,” says Dr. Massengill. “The impact of chronic illness – on patients, their parents, siblings, education, and family finances – can be enormous. But the gift of a transplant helps lessen, or even eliminate, that impact.”

Now healthy and recovering, Bailey can see the future in a new light, and it’s no surprise that he wants to one day be a doctor. He doesn’t know what kind yet – but he does know he wants to use his experiences to help someone else. 

MEET BAILEY’S CARE TEAM

The double transplant surgery took a coordinated effort from the operating room and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to the nephrology, gastroenterology and transplant teams. The transplant surgeons involved with Bailey’s care include Dr. David Levi, Dr. Lon Eskind and Dr. Vincent Casingal. The medical team that cares for Bailey includes Dr. Massengill and Dr. Vani Gopalareddy.

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A few members of Bailey's care team: Vincent Casingil, MD (kidney transplant surgeon), Susan Massengill, MD (nephrologist), and David Levi, MD (liver transplant surgeon)