BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - While inputting close to a thousand baby pictures into an album I have on my Facebook page, I saw the picture of a sweet-faced boy snuggled up in a blanket.
The parents said "...born with a rare liver disease- Biliary Atresia. Briggs had a major surgery around 1 month old. He received his first liver transplant at 5 months old on June 25. He received a second liver transplant on July 1st. He then received a third liver transplant on July 17th all before he was seven months old. He is truly a miracle baby!"
Brittany and Bryan Elliser had surely endured so much stress, but they amazed me by asking me to tell people about their program to provide blankets to babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units of hospitals. "Blankies for Briggs" evolved somewhere around the time Briggs had transplant number one. His parents knew their new baby was struggling.
"He was jaundiced," said Brittany,"and that was the first sign of it. The color of his stools were not normal, and he was lethargic."
Brittany said his symptoms were profound and when they walked into the office of the gastro-enterologist at Our Lady of the Lake, one of the first things he said to them was that he was 90 percent sure that Briggs had a rare liver disease--Biliary Atresia.
Briggs was pretty tiny at that point, and the Ellisers say a surgery was performed on the baby, not for transplant, but to help him live long enough to grow big enough to handle the transplant surgery a little better.
The first transplant in late June, Brittany said she was thinking about all the families in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She started looking for a way to produce something that families might appreciate for their babies.
"We don't actually make the quilts, it's through a company called Baby Jack. We put a sticker on them, and maybe a picture of Briggs."
Baby Jack and Company is based in Milwaukee. Brittany says they have a "kindness campaign" and that's where the free blankets come from. The program is savvy and bears the hashtag #spreadthelovey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Ellisers say, so far, they've passed out about 65 "Blankies from Briggs."
"We've gotten about 20 letters from the parents," she said, "Their privacy is important and so we don't ever meet the parents of the children who get the blankets. But that's okay, we really don't expect anything."
Briggs, by the way, is looking good! His liver disease is gone. Now he's recovering from the transplants.
Brittany says his newest trick is rolling over. He also enjoys watching Mickey Mouse Club on TV and watching his 2-year-old brother Brady. It won't be long before he'll be tagging along.
Anyone wanting to help fund Blankies from Briggs, or perhaps make quilts or blankets to give to the NICU babies...contact Briggs and his family by emailing email@example.com.