On September 21, 2012, the Smith’s welcomed beautiful baby Matilda into their family. But shortly after birth, she fell deeply ill. Doctors diagnosed Matilda with acute liver failure when she was nine days old and she was immediately put on life support. She was transferred to hospital after hospital and placed at the top of the transplant list. Kelly was completely helpless, praying for a donor while doctors searched for a cause. Ultimately, it was determined Matilda had Neonatal Hemochromatosis, though even that diagnosis didn’t quite fit her symptoms. In the hospital they stayed, just waiting.
The waiting was the worst part. Anger and sadness and happiness and gratitude– Kelly went through it all. It felt like a bad dream, and ultimately, Kelly had to let go of all expectations and just endure, hoping that she could survive anything that came her way next.
“I learned more about life, love, and faith in those five weeks than I could ever express,” Kelly said.
At six weeks old, the Smith’s received the news they had been praying for. Matilda underwent a successful whole liver transplant. She is alive. She is healthy. She is now 7 months old and thriving.
“She is a miracle and I cannot look at her without feeling thankful and blessed,” Kelly said.
And now, Kelly wants to teach Matilda one day about the life that was lost so she could live, about the prayers that were said on her behalf, and about the miracle that she is.
“I want her to have an understanding of how her life began so that she can truly see value in a life well lived.”
Kelly now hopes Matilda’s story can bring hope and inspiration to those who need it, and awareness to pediatric organ donation.
“I heard someone say once, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” When life does not go according to plan, that does not mean we should stop living. Just keep moving forward.”