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Organ donation truly is the gift of life

Healthier Together: The Gift of Life
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Right now many children are finalizing those Christmas wish lists, but some have only one thing they’re hoping for.

In the case of young Isabella Gross, it was a new heart.

“She’s doing better. She’s doing a lot better. She’s enjoying, you know, being home and getting to know the new house and getting to know everything, so, not the hospital,” said Isabella’s mom, Michelle Gross.

Little Isabella is not quite 18-months-old, and finally out of the hospital and thriving after she received a new heart.

“Yes, since birth most of her life was at the hospital. She went home a few weeks, but then went back. So yeah, most of her life has been at the hospital,” said Gross.

16 weeks into Michelle’s pregnancy, doctors were able to see Isabella’s developing heart had a problem and would need surgery.

“You give birth and then they just pass her through the window, and they transfer them to Primary Children’s to get all set up.”

It was her first of many scary moments.

Gross said, “We had many many moments we didn’t know if she would make it one more hour.”

“It truly is life or death for many of our members, patients and just families,” said Regence Senior Medical Director Dr. Mike Franz.

Dr. Franz says the numbers of those needing a life-saving organ transplant can be daunting.

“Nearly 106,000 people are currently on the National Transplant List - and I’d like to sort of concretize that for you. So a Boeing 747 seats about 400 passengers. That number 106 thousand is equal to 265 747s full of people waiting for an organ transplant,” said Franz.

1,900 of those waiting are children like Isabella. Her mom says when they got the call it came with a myriad of emotions.

“It has been difficult, with different emotions through the whole journey. At the beginning you feel heartbroken because someone else’s child is going to die in order for your child to have a chance of living. At the end it’s just gratitude.”

She said her family is immensely grateful to the donor family for making this selfless decision that gives their daughter the gift of life.

“Just amazing...we are forever grateful to this family and to every single donor around the world,” said Gross.

A single decision made by donors or their loved ones that affects multiple people.

“Every organ donor can save 8 lives and enhance up to 75 more lives, said Dr. Franz.

A message of gratitude from Isabella’s mother Michelle this holiday season, to their donor family, the doctors and nurses at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, and the Ronald McDonald House. But also, of hope for others on a similar path.

“You become a community,” said Gross. “You become a family with all these amazing moms. They are my biggest supporters and every day I see these kids at the hospital, and I know them by name.”

For more on organ donation you can go to where they help answer questions and dispel the myths associated with signing up as an organ donor.