Written by Alison Beier
For the greater part of a year, Alison Beier rushed her son to the hospital every three to six weeks to be treated for septic shock – an often-fatal condition triggered by relentless infection. Evan, 4, waited for a new kidney. His first transplant, scarred from repeated infections, required tubes to drain – his immune system, fragile.
Evan’s doctors pushed to remove the ailing kidney and place a hemodialysis catheter: meaning, his life would rely solely on the hospital-based dialysis. They were convinced there was no other option. One physician persisted, “If we don’t remove it (the kidney), your son will die!”
Evan had endured countless complications from dialysis as an infant; and, Alison was acutely aware of the risks involved if he again relied on dialysis to live. Unwavering, Alison adamantly advocated against the doctors’ plans – insisting the team find another approach.
In a hospital first, Alison was permitted access to Evan’s kidney; she pushed IV antibiotics directly into the organ daily. It worked: the plan kept Evan alive and safe until transplant day.
Days before transplant, Evan received that hemodialysis catheter: a standard pre-transplant precaution in the event the transplanted kidney has complications. A trial-run dialysis was ordered the night before transplant; the treatment was unsuccessful. The catheter had failed as soon as it was placed; and, dialysis didn’t work. Had doctors moved forward with their plan to remove Evan’s kidney, months prior, leaving him reliant on dialysis to live, Evan would have died.
Despite his doctor’s protests at the time, Alison in conjunction with Evan’s team, found a solution that worked for everyone. Alison’s advocacy saved her son’s life.
As a member of UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital Parent Advisory Council (PAC), Alison leveraged her personal experience with sepsis to support a successful PAC collaboration with the Emergency Department (ED) at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center. The partnership birthed code sepsis protocol for implementation in the ED. Today, Code Sepsis is in place system-wide throughout UCLA Health.