A year ago, Sawyer Mobley could only dream about running and playing with his friends.
Because of a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis, his lungs were failing.
After a double-lung transplant in January, the 10-year-old is now living his dreams. Six months after the transplant, Sawyer is more the active boy he wants to be.
An open port for taking intravenous medications every several hours and lugging around an oxygen tank prevented Sawyer from participating in his favorite activities, such as playing baseball, playing with his friends and swimming.
“It was cool,” Sawyer said of his first time in a swimming pool after his transplant.
Sawyer’s mother, Angel Mobley, said when she and Sawyer’s twin brother, Aiden, went swimming, Sawyer got to guard the pool edges with a water gun, but was never able to get in.
It’s exciting to see Sawyer, who was on life support prior to and just after his Jan. 16 transplant, laughing and telling her how happy he is, his mother said.
“He just wanted to be able to go outside,” Mobley said. “He didn’t want his life being ruled by toting around an oxygen machine, doing all of his IVs. Now he gets to go out there and do.
“Now, he can get in the pool and swim. He’s not on the edges anymore. ... Instead of being on the perimeter of play, he’s in the middle.”
Sawyer said it’s exciting to get better and try new things every day. But he’s working hard at physical and occupational therapy sessions twice a week at Ducktails Pediatric Therapy and Wellness in Evans.
Mobley said the therapy is to lengthen and strengthen Sawyer’s muscles, which shortened and atrophied during his lengthy periods in bed. He wears braces to help stretch his leg muscles and is working hard to increase his range of motion and improve his walking gait.
“He’s doing really well,” said Krista Odom, one of Sawyer’s occupational therapists. “We have to do little play bribes to get stuff done.
“He works really well. Five minutes of video game time and we can get a lot of exercise done.”
Sawyer has been on breathing treatments since he was a baby and daily IV medications since October 2006.
His six-month post-transplant check-up in St. Louis showed no signs of rejection and Sawyer’s doctors discontinued the IV medications and breathing treatments. He hasn’t needed oxygen since the transplant.
But things didn’t look up right after the transplant. Sawyer was on life support before the surgery and continued on it after that to ensure his new lungs worked properly. Sawyer still had to do a lot of the medications and treatments as he did before the transplant.
But all the treatments and therapy post-transplant were done with a different attitude – with hope – Mobley said.
“We do the work, we do what we need to do and we hope and pray all these things fall in line,” Mobley said, adding that Sawyer’s white blood cell count and immunoglobulin levels are still low.
“There’s a million little things. All we had to do is be thankful that we had the lungs. That’s the biggest thing.
“Every single day, I literally am just thankful and feel blessed just to have him.”
The most satisfying aspect, Mobley said, is seeing her son embrace his new freedom. Sawyer has been able to enjoy that freedom since the July check-up when the medications and treatments were stopped.
Sawyer said he’s willing to work hard as he gets better every day. He’s enjoying his new active lifestyle, though his mother is still adjusting to letting him walk to a neighbor’s house for water gun wars or to go play outside with his friends.
“Sometimes, I’ll sit down and play (video) games still,” Sawyer said of his favorite activity when he was very ill.
Though schooled through the homebound program, Sawyer is looking forward to returning to school. Mobley said that could come in the spring, after cold and flu season and his white cell counts improve.
But Sawyer doesn’t like that he can’t attend his former school, Bel Air Elementary, which closed at the end of last year.
“I don’t like that,” he said.
For the Mobleys, the future is bright. Mobley said she can’t wait to go on the next family vacation, one that won’t be scheduled around medications or slowed down by oxygen tanks.
“I can’t wait to go on a cruise or go on a vacation and have him actually be able to enjoy the vacation,” Mobley said. “It’s only getting better.
“It has been truly a blessing and a miracle for us.”