6-year-old thankful for liver transplant

Published On: Apr 18 2013 11:08:50 AM EDT
Updated On: Apr 18 2013 08:50:54 PM EDT

Last year we introduced you to Andrew Kozlowski - a Jacksonville Beach boy who's alive today because of a lifesaving transplant. Channel 4's Ashley Mitchem caught up with Andrew to see how he's doing today.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Andrew Kozlowski is one active 6-year-old.

"I play soccer, I play tag," he said.

It's hard to imagine how tiny he was as a hospital patient. Andrew received a life-saving liver transplant at 13 months old.

Andrew was born with biliary atresia, a condition in which bile isn't removed from the liver. It can be fatal, and in Andrew's case, doctors said he needed a new liver to survive.

"As a new mom with my first baby, I was devastated. I mean, just broken," Andrew's mother, Cheston Kozlowski said.

Then they got the call that a donor liver was available.

A girl named Savannah was killed in a car wreck, and her mother decided to donate her daughter's organs. The 10-year-old's organs saved five lives. One was Andrew's.

"Thank you for giving me a new liver," Andrew said of what he'd tell Savannah now if he could meet her.

Last year, Channel 4 arranged a special reunion to bring Savannah's mother to Jacksonville so she could meet Andrew and see how her daughter's tragedy saved his life.

"We love her like she is our family," Cheston said. "It was such a blessing last year when we got to meet her because of Channel 4, and we're so grateful for her and humbled by her decision."

Now Andrew is in kindergarten and plays soccer, something his parents worried might never happen.

"That decision that she made just changed and impacted our lives forever," Cheston said, "because without her, where would we be?"

Ninety percent of Americans support organ donation, but only 43 percent are currently registered. Cheston hopes that percentage will go up.

"You give a family like mine the opportunity to enjoy their child, which is huge," she said.

Many locals may have heard of Katie Ride For Life. It's a foundation named after Katie Caples, who died in a car wreck at 17 years old. The foundation is committed to organ donor education to increase the number of registered donors.

"118,000 people woke up not knowing if they would make it through the day, because we're so short of organs and they desperately need one," said Dave Caples, Katie's father and founder of the foundation.

You can show support by becoming an organ donor and participating in the ninth annual Katie Ride For Life bike ride or walk on Saturday. For more information on how to register, click here.

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