PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Even with a life-threatening condition, 5-year-old Nico, who was in foster care, was adopted by his new family.

“We were told he had intestinal failure, and was awaiting transplant. We had done other medical foster care before, but this was something that was completely new to us.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, but once we saw him, we knew there wasn’t any choice about it. We really, really wanted to do this,” says Nan Beachem of Portersville, who adopted Nico. “It’s been five years, waiting for transplant, getting to this point, and now it seems worth it.”

In early December, he received a small bowel transplant. The donor was from Texas.

“When a donor becomes available, we put the information from the donor into this computerized system, and the computerized system finds the match,” says Misty Enos, of the Center for Organ Recovery and Education. “We look at blood type, sometimes we look at height and weight, and we do different types of blood testings to see if they’re a match.”

Every year, for every million people, two or three will need an intestinal transplant. About 200 are waiting. Most are younger than 6.

For both the parents and the doctor, the biggest concern is rejection.

“It happens over and over again, more than any other organ,” says Dr. Rakesh Sindhi, a transplant surgeon at Children’s Hospital.

It happens 30 to 50 percent of the time.

Nico will be on medicines to prevent this and he will have to learn to eat. Before the transplant, he was fed mostly by vein.

“Now, we’re going home without any I.V. fluids. So it’s a whole new world,” says Nan.

The Beachems are in the process of adopting another child who also needs the same kind of transplant.

“We knew the care that was involved, with him, so it just seemed to be a natural fit,” Nan continues.

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