CHOA patients all smiles after their life-saving transplants

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Everett received his heart transplant at the age of three. His mom Kelly says, “There are not adequate words to describe how thankful we are for the life-saving miracle of Everett's donor heart." 

ATLANTA — As a way to show thanks to donors everywhere in recognition of National Donate Life Month, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta asked parents of patients to take a photo of their child doing something they couldn't do before their life-saving transplants.

[PHOTOS: CHOA patients all smiles after their life-saving transplants]

The inspiring results showed the power of organ donation and captured the renewed sense of hope that comes with second chance at life.

Here are some of their brave stories: 

Mallory (5) can go to Disney World: 

Mallory received her new heart in December 2014 at the age of 2. Her dad Dustin says, “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. As a transplant parent, you never forgot 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) can ride his bike: 

Everett received his heart transplant at the age of 3. His mom Kelly says, “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. We try to honor that gift everyday by giving Everett as full and healthy and intentional and hopeful a life as possible.”

Mia (5) can eat: 

Mia received a liver transplant in December 2017. The Hope family says, “Organ donation gave our daughter her second chance at life and we will forever be grateful.  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. 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.”

Corrie (5) can take dance classes

Corrie received a liver transplant in February 2015 at the age of two. Her mom Paige says, “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.”

Sereyna (16) can play lacrosse

Sereyna received a liver transplant last year, at the age of 15. She says, “My donor and their family gave me a selfless gift that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Natalie (12) can play sports

Natalie received a kidney in January 2018 from her 25-year-old first cousin Sergio, a living donor. The Helton family says, “We thank God for Sergio’s selfless, loving act in giving his kidney to Natalie. This made a special relationship gain more depth. Sergio is a blessing to our family, along with his own immediate family. 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.”

Hadley (11) can go to school

Hadley received her liver transplant in 2015 at age 9. Her mom Jillian says, “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. 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. After meeting her, I don’t know how you can’t be an organ donor!”

Jonah (14) can snowboard

Jonah received a liver transplant in 2009, one month after he turned 6. His mom Kerrie says, “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. Their generosity has humbled me and made their family a part of our hearts forever.” Jonah adds, “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."

Children’s is home to one of the leading pediatric transplant centers in the country offering comprehensive pre- and post-transplant services to children, teens and young adults with liver, heart and kidney diseases.

In 2017, Children’s performed a total of 62 solid organ transplants, celebrated its 1500th transplant, and was ranked number 4 in the nation by United Network for Organ Sharing for pediatric transplant volume.

More than 116,000 men, women and children are currently waiting for transplants. It only takes minutes to sign up, and the decision can save lives.