[UPDATE Saturday, Nov. 28 4 p.m. — Melissa Lim texted CBS2’s Kristine Lazar late Friday to say doctors have found a heart for baby Ellie. As of this writing, Ellie is in surgery.]
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — It’s the season of giving and one family is hoping they will receive the ultimate gift — a new heart for their baby daughter.
The new heart would save Ellie Lim. Her parents — Melissa and Lee Lim — know for their 8-month-old daughter to live, another family will have to make an agonizing decision.
Ellie has spent more than half her young life in a hospital bed. She has an enlarged heart and needs a transplant.
KCAL9’s Kristine Lazar explains why getting organ donations for kids is especially difficult.
While most families spent the holidays around the dinner table, Lazar said the Lims spent theirs around their daughter’s hospital bed.
“I haven’t held her,” Melissa says breaking into tears, “since…August.”
Ellie has dilated cardiomyopathy — an enlarged heart. The organ is nearly twice the size it should be.
Doctors at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital say her only hope for survival is a heart transplant.
“Today is 121 days of waiting,” Melissa said.
The Lims are hoping this holiday season to spread the message about the greatest gift anyone can give — organ donation.
“They’re making sure their loved one, that person is extending their legacy through somebody else,” Melissa said. “I promise you, that person on the receiving end will be so grateful.”
A transplant doctor at UCLA told Lazar that donation can be especially difficult for babies and children.
“There are not very many circumstances where a child is healthy enough to die and [also] healthy enough to be organ donors, ” said D. Nancy Halmon, a pediatric cardiologist. “So a parent with a healthy child, is going to be the one who is asked, to make the biggest donation ever, on the worst day of their life.”
So the Lims wait and hope that the day nears when they will see Ellie smile. And that maybe, she can get a heart in the matter of days and be out of the hospital by Christmas.
If Ellie’s heart gave out completely, she could get a mechanical organ but doctors told Lazar there are risks there as well — including the risk of stroke. Doctors said Ellie’s best chance for a normal life would be a transplant and very soon.