Lella was just 2 months old when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening liver condition known as Biliary Atresia. This rare disease blocks the liver’s bile ducts, causing toxins to build up, which can lead to severe liver damage. Within days, doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado performed corrective surgery, but in Lella’s case, surgery wouldn’t be enough.
Two months later, the family drove five hours from their home in Delta, Colo., to Children’s Colorado for what they thought would be a quick overnight stay. But lab work showed that Lella’s condition had worsened. Her liver had begun to harden and expand with scar tissue. Her organ was failing, and Lella would need a liver transplant to survive.
A home away from home
Lella spent the next four months at Children’s Colorado awaiting a new liver. Her grandparents parked their motorhome in the hospital parking lot, while Lella’s parents and brother took up residence on the 8th floor of Children’s Colorado.
Two months into her hospital stay, Lella’s electrolytes dropped to a dangerous level. Her condition perilous, doctors put Lella on a breathing tube and transfered her to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. She eventually fought her way off of the breathing tube but was being kept alive with medications and round-the-clock care. Lella’s new liver couldn’t come quickly enough.
The day the call came
Lella was almost 7 months old when her family received the call they had been waiting for. Lella had been matched to a donor in Iowa – a 17-year-old girl who tragically died in a car accident.
“When we got the call, we were ready. Scared, but ready for the next step in healing Lella,” said Lella's mom, Lyndall.
Lella spent 10 hours in surgery to get her new liver. In the days that followed, she battled through post-transplant complications, including an additional surgery to replace a liver valve that wasn’t functioning properly.
“After that surgery she made a huge turn around," said Lyndall. “After having 14 tubes in her, they began removing tubes every day.”
A few weeks later, Lella was discharged with 16 medications and a feeding tube. Today, nearly seven years post-transplant, Lella is a happy, courageous 7-year-old, whose liver continues to function on its own.
Lella’s mom says she is forever grateful to the family of her daughter’s liver donor.
“Because of their bravery in their darkest time and the outstanding care given at Children's Hospital Colorado, Lella was able to live.”