Los Lun as

Five-month-old Ian Alexander Gassman has never been able to see his Los Lunas home.

Born with a condition called Gastroschisis β€” in which the intestine develops outside of the body β€” Ian has spent the entirety of his short life in hospital rooms.

Enduring countless surgeries and tests and being fed intravenously, Ian is now in need of a liver and small bowel transplant.

“Certainly, without the transplant, he has no chance (of surviving),” his grandfather, Jack Lovato Jr., of Los Lunas said.

The necessary transplant surgery could cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, according to Lovato. “We really need the community’s help to raise these funds,” he said.

Ian was born in December β€” seven weeks premature β€” to parents Barbara Lovato-Gassman and Robert Gassman of Los Lunas. And though the parents have tried on several occasions to unite the family and bring Ian home to his own bedroom, which is ready and waiting for him, there have always been complications hindering the visit.

Ian currently only has six inches left of his small intestine; the normal length is eight feet. Since the organ was exposed to amniotic fluid during the pregnancy, it was practically destroyed. This makes it impossible for Ian to process foods and liquids through his digestive system, and he must therefore be fed intravenously with a substance that, though it sustains nutrients in the body, eventually destroys the liver.

Lovato said, throughout this ordeal, the medical facilities treating Ian, Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque and Lied Transplant Center in Omaha, Neb., have been “excellent. I’d really like to thank all of them; they haven’t gotten the publicity I wish they had.”

Family and friends have organized numerous fund-raising events for Ian’s surgery, including car washes and bake sales. Also, Robert Gassman’s employer, Wal-Mart, has agreed to match all funds raised for Ian.

“This child has fought for five months for his life … we’ll make sure his fight isn’t for nothing … he deserves to live,” Lovato said. “After everything he’s been through, when you look at him, he’ll still smile and coo.”

The baby is also the grandson of Dolores Gonzales Lovato of Los Lunas and Erma Gassman of Tucumcari.

The family said if anyone sees fit, contributions can be made to the Ian A. Gassman Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank.

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Julia Selby Smith