These 8 Children Have A Second Chance At Life, Thanks To Organ Donors

April is National Donate Life Month.

April is National Donate Life, a time when local, regional and national organizations come together to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors and to celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of organ transplants. On an average day, 92 people receive organ transplants, many of whom are just children. 

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To commemorate the month, and thank organ donors everywhere, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta asked patients' parents to photograph their child doing something they couldn't do before receiving an organ transplant

The hospital compiled them all into an inspiring photo series that shows the power of organ donation and captures the renewed sense of hope that comes with a second chance at life. While each child's story is different, they all share a common thread of gratitude for the donors and their families.  

Mallory, 5, received her new heart at age 2 and can now go to Disney World.

"The gift of life is an amazing, beautiful thing. It's not just about the big things like family vacations to Disney, although those are amazing, but the little moments in life that happen every day," Dustin, Mallory's dad, told Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "As a transplant parent, you never forget that someone had to make the ultimate sacrifice so that someone you love could have a second chance at life. We are forever grateful to our donor and their family, and because of that we choose to give Mallory's new heart every opportunity to travel and experience as much joy and life as we can provide."

Everett, 6, received his heart transplant three years ago. Now, he can ride his bike.

"There are not adequate words to describe how thankful we are for the life-saving miracle of Everett's donor heart. We are forever grateful and humbled to realize that in the midst of another family's tragedy and grief, they had the strength to say yes to organ donation," his mom Kelly said. "We try to honor that gift every day by giving Everett as full and healthy and intentional and hopeful a life as possible."

Last year, Sereyna received a liver transplant at age of 15. Today, she's playing lacrosse.

"My donor and their family gave me a selfless gift that I will cherish for the rest of my life," she said.  

Fourteen-year-old Jonah received a liver transplant in 2009. This year, he can hit the slopes.

"I am so grateful that these people donated to me so that I could live and go on with my life. I am so thankful for what they did for me," Jonah said. 

"We've never met our donor family, but I think of them every single day. They made a selfless and unimaginable decision to donate life — literally — and it is not lost on me that this is why I get to hug my baby, my son, every day," his mom Kerrie added. "Their generosity has humbled me and made their family a part of our hearts forever."

Mia, 5, received a liver transplant just a few months ago in December 2017 and can now eat.

"... There is no 'thank you' big enough in the world to describe the amount of gratitude we feel for Mia's donor and their family. We have witnessed a true miracle in seeing our daughter transform from a very sick child who was connected to a lot of wires and cords into a spunky, energetic, full of life little girl," her family said. "Mia was unable to eat or drink for many months pre-transplant, dependent on IV nutrition to sustain her. Now she is eating and drinking and living life, and it is absolutely beautiful."

Natalie, 12, received a kidney in early 2018 from her cousin Sergio, a living donor. Today, she can play sports.

"We thank God for Sergio's selfless, loving act in giving his kidney to Natalie. This made a special relationship gain more depth," her family said. "...The success so far can be given to the doctors, nurses, PAs, Nurse Practitioners, technicians, and the everyday staff at Children's Hospital of Atlanta and Emory Hospital, along with the fervent prayers here and around the world."

At age two, Corrie (now 5) received a liver transplant and can now take dance classes.

"Because of an organ donor, Corrie can take dance classes and do everything she sets her mind to. She is healed, happy and thriving thanks to our generous donor family," her mom Paige said. 

Hadley, 11, received her liver transplant in 2015 at age 9. Today, she can go to school.

"We feel such immense gratitude towards Hadley's donor, Aubrey (we call her Sunrise) and her family. Everything we have in life is because of one little girl and one family's decision to donate," her mom Jillian said. "So many people often say that Aubrey's spirit shines through Hadley, and everything she does in life is done to honor Aubrey's life. Hadley recently won a writing contest that is headed to the state level to be judged. She wrote about her transplant process and at the end of the paper said it was possible because of Aubrey. Hadley will change the world one organ donor at a time."

These are just a few of the thousands of children whose lives have been forever changed by organ transplants. In 2017, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta performed a total of 62 solid organ transplants and celebrated its 1500th transplant in the history of its program. Even so, more than 116,000 men, women, and children are currently waiting for transplants. Luckily, it only takes minutes to sign up to be an organ donor, and the decision can save lives.

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