Sapulpa teen aiming for national youth bowling championship shares his inspiring story of survival

TULSA WORLD | Mike Averil
Photo: Jesse Wardarski

SAPULPA — A liver transplant and battle with cancer led a Sapulpa teenager to become a champion youth bowler.

Cooper Ward was born with extrahepatic biliary atresia — his liver had no bile ducts — and spent his first birthday in a pediatric intensive care unit awaiting a transplant.

His mother, Brandy, first became aware that something was wrong with her son when his jaundice persisted two months after his birth.

Exploratory surgery determined he needed a new liver immediately.

“Honestly, I was fearful he was going to die,” Brandy Ward said.

A donor was found, and the transplant was successful. However, there have been some battles with organ rejection over the years.

When he was 9, Ward was diagnosed with post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, a kind of cancer that required him to have chemotherapy and a tracheostomy.

It was during the chemo treatment that he began realizing his love and talent for bowling.

His mother would take him to Sahoma Lanes Bowling Center in Sapulpa for kids-bowl-free days. He’d bowl two games and go home exhausted.

As he regained his strength after the treatment, he’d ask to stay and bowl extra games. Continue reading

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