This story was submitted by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and transplant recipient dad, Giovanni Sapio, finance manager at Scotts.
Jaundice in newborns is common. The yellowing of a baby’s skin and eyes occurs when there is a high level of bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced during normal breakdown of red blood cells. In most cases, jaundice goes away on its own in two to three weeks. However, for baby Gabby, the condition would not go away.
Gabby was born in spring 2009, and the first six months of her life were spent in and out of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, undergoing numerous tests and surgeries in order to figure out why she was yellow.
She was soon diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare, incurable disease of the liver and bile ducts that occurs in infants. The majority of all children diagnosed with biliary atresia will need a liver transplant before they are 20 years old. Gabby’s parents were scared at the prospect of their daughter needing a transplant and took a while to process this information.
Within a short time frame, Gabby became a patient at Cincinnati’s Children Hospital. They were educated on keeping Gabby healthy, counseled on what a transplant would mean for their daughter and were able to connect with other parents whose children had received transplants. These interactions gave them hope.
The next few years of Gabby’s life flew by. Finally, in November of 2013, her health declined to the point where she needed to be placed on the national transplant waiting list for a new liver.
As Gabby and her parents waited for the call, her condition remained stable throughout the first half of 2014. “A beeper was given to us, and they had our cell phone numbers,” Gio, Gabby’s dad, says. “Any day, we could get the call, and we wouldn’t know when it was going to come. Every time the phone rang, we wondered if this was the call. There was a lot of anxiety.”
The call they had been waiting for came in September 2014. The family arrived in Cincinnati and five-year old Gabby was prepped for surgery.
The transplant surgery lasted more than eleven hours. The nurses provided updates throughout the day, but Gabby’s parents were anxious. Finally, they heard the good news – the surgery was a success!
Gabby made great progress over the following days and weeks. She was able to leave the hospital a week later, but had to remain in Cincinnati for six weeks while she healed.
Since her transplant three and a half years ago, she’s grown more than six inches, has gained energy and had her wish granted to visit Hawaii with her family.
When the family was asked what they thought of Gabby’s donor, “Brave, heroic, selfless, caring, compassionate, incredible, loving, courageous and amazing” were just a few of the words they had.
Gabby was truly given the gift of life and hope. Please consider registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor today.