Throughout 2018, Alamo City Moms Blog will be spotlighting one local nonprofit each month as part of its ACMB Cares campaign. Our goal is to familiarize readers with nonprofit organizations that are making an impact in San Antonio through their connection with moms and/or children. This month, we are featuring the #HowIDonateLife campaign, which was launched to bring awareness to the many adults and children waiting for their perfect organ donor match. April is National Donate Life Month, and usually people think about being an organ donor for adults. Have you considered the impact of pediatric donation? Today, guest blogger Kelly shares the incredible story about her daughter Matilda’s fight to live and amazing recovery when she was merely weeks old. We encourage you to carefully consider how you could donate life and read more about organ donation at Donate Life Texas.
I have spent the last five years building the most beautiful memories with a girl so mighty and brave, so headstrong and determined, so full of absolute joy and life. I have spent the last five years with a girl who could have very easily passed away at nine days old, or 13 days old, or 26 days old, or six weeks old. I have spent the last five years holding and loving my daughter, Matilda, because of organ donation.
A mother and a father chose to donate the organs of their son, in the saddest moment of their lives, so that Matilda could live. So that up to eight lives could be saved (each donor has the potential to save up to eight lives). So that other parents didn’t have to suffer the way that they did.
There are 1,900 children in the United States at any given time who are in need of a lifesaving organ transplant. The thing is, there is a cure for their ailments. All they need is the beautiful gift of an organ.
When I had my daughter, the last thing I expected was for her to be unhealthy. But there I was, with a very sick little baby in my arms and uncontrollable tears streaming down my face. She was diagnosed with acute liver failure and didn’t have a chance of surviving without a transplant. The practical side of me began to prepare. To explain to my two-year-old son that his sister was not coming home. But the joyful, hopeful side of me knew that everything was going to be OK. Even if she never was able to come home, everything would be OK because this was her life and I was determined to fill it with all the love and happiness of a lifetime.
No one expects to be thinking those kinds of thoughts with a newborn in their arms, but that was our reality. The name Matilda means “mighty in battle,” and I clearly remember dismissing that fact before she was born. That’s dumb, I thought. They should come up with more modern meanings. What battle will she ever be in? But, don’t we all fight our own battles every single day? Boy, am I glad that Matilda is mighty and capable of holding her own.
Life in the hospital was full of ups and downs. There were the practical moments of realizing it had been days since I changed my clothes, picking up food that friends and family sent, and pumping breast milk, just in case. There were the tragic moments, when mothers screamed and children were lost right before my eyes. And, there were terrifying moments when we all held our breath waiting for Matilda to pull through. However, there was one constant: she filled every inch of our room with more love than I had ever experienced before.
Love was the only thing that mattered. Love was what kept us alive, dictated our choices, and held us up when nothing seemed to work. Love became my food, my breath, my job. And that felt beautiful. So beautiful that despite the sadness and fear that whispered to me constantly—she might die, this might be it, you have failed—love was able to overcome and focus me on what truly mattered.
In another state, in another reality, in another world completely, love was what saved Matilda. A mother out there loved so much that she realized her son would no longer need his organs. He was gone, but love remained. The memory of his greatness could not be stifled by death, but instead spread to the lives of eight children waiting for a chance to live. A chance to love.
So, Matilda didn’t go home to heaven. She was gifted the opportunity to remain in my arms, to grow into the kind of person who speaks love with every ounce of her being—in her breath, her smile, the twinkle in her eyes, and the mischief in her step.
She was saved by the love of a stranger.