National Donate Life Month

While April is winding down, I couldn’t let the month pass without mentioning that it’s National Donate Life Month. I asked my best friend, Kelly, to share the story of her baby girl Matilda and the the life saving procedure that she went through at a mere six weeks. Here’s what she had to share.

We tell ourselves it is normal to feel worried before giving birth, but the bottom line always remains the same – as long as the baby is healthy, nothing else matters. But sometimes the baby is not healthy, and no mother (or father) can really prepare for that.

  • Matilda


    The day Matilda was born there was no indication that something was wrong. About a week later was when she made a turn for the worse.

  • Matilda


    Matilda was rushed to Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC and was quickly placed on the transplant list.

  • Matilda


    While they were in the hospital they found out that the name Matilda means mighty in battle. How fitting her name became.

  • Matilda + Kelly

    Matilda + Kelly

    Kelly rarely left Matilda’s side for the several months they were in the hospital.

  • Matilda, Seven Months

    Matilda, Seven Months

    Matilda is now seven months and healthy and happy.

April is National Donate Life Month.

My daughter Matilda was born on September 21st, 2012. She was perfect and healthy. Then she started sleeping more, eating less, and throwing up. After a trip to the ER, an ambulance ride to the nearest children’s hospital and another transfer to NYC, I was told my nine day old baby was in critical condition with acute liver failure.

To this day, it is not known what happened. I cannot comprehend how I went from holding the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen, to watching her limp body wither away.

Matilda weighed six pounds and needed a whole liver from a baby of similar size. This broke my heart. I did not know much about organ donation. I was naive and had never considered that babies and children need small organs.

The idea of a liver transplant honestly terrified me. The statistics for surviving such a surgery did not encourage a hopeful outlook. I looked to previous neonatal liver transplant recipients for encouragement and to my faith for solace.

The days leading up to her transplant were happy and peaceful. She was slipping away; we could see that. Complications continued to stack up and talk about removing Matilda from the waiting list grew closer by the minute. They warned us that she might not remain a viable candidate for much longer. We refused to lose hope and were determined to enjoy life by celebrating the time we had together.

On November 2nd, Matilda’s six week birthday, her match was found. It came from a two week old. The transplant went better than anyone could have imagined. The surgeon said it was remarkable that she was still alive because only 1% of her liver was still functioning.

Every day, every moment that I hold my daughter close, kiss her cheeks, and make her laugh I am reminded that she is a gift. The moments that I have with her were conceived, nourished, and brought into this world by another family. A mother chose, in what I imagine to have been the saddest moment of her life, to bring light into my life through the gift of organ donation.

We were blessed, many are not. Please take a moment to consider registering yourself and your children to become organ donors and save lives in the wake of tragedy.

You can read more about Matilda’s story and organ donation on Kelly’s blog, Cloudy Day Gray.

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