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Young Okotoks girl thrives after rare multiple organ transplant procedure
The parents of a baby girl in southern Alberta are astounded by the generosity of the public, including one special family who helped donate organs that saved the life of their daughter.
When Lukah Mitchell was just a year old, she was taken to hospital in Calgary when she was exhibiting health issues.
“The blood supply was cut off to her organs and so she was flown by STARS to Edmonton,” said her mom Tanis.
Doctors there found a tumour, the size of a baseball inside her stomach. The growth was impeding the blood flow and when surgeons removed it, they didn’t expect the girl to survive.
“She needed at multi-visceral organ transplant, which is four to five organs transplanted by the same donor. It’s a really rare transplant to get.”
The procedure is so rare that, before Lukah, it had only been performed less than 10 times in Western Canada.
The little girl did survive the initial operation and spent nearly two months in hospital before a donor came forward.
“It was a huge miracle; just unheard of. She’s like a little superstar at the Stollery,” Tanis said.
The family says the surgery as a complete success and they just got back home earlier this month.
“It’s been a really emotional six months. She has gotten through everything. All the doctors and nurses tell us that they didn’t really do anything. She just held on herself and kinda like she had a plan the whole time. She knew she had to wait until she had the strength to have the surgery and she aced the surgery and the healing process afterwards.”
Lukah’s dad Cody says it’s hard to believe they are finally back at home after their ordeal.
“The past five months we’ve been at her bedside just waiting for the organ donation. Even this morning, when you hear her crying the morning and you have to go to her crib to lift her out; it’s still a bit surreal for me.”
While Lukah was in the hospital, Cody says he wanted the doctors to be honest with them if it ever got to a point when their daughter was no longer a viable organ recipient so they could say goodbye to her, but that moment never came.
“It definitely has put our life in perspective. We’ve had long conversations about what we want our life to look like and it’s radically different than where we were six months ago … from that point in time until now, everything’s changed.”
Tanis says she wants everyone to know how important organ donation is, especially because it was integral in saving Lukah’s life.
“It was an emotional, crazy time for us to realize that some other baby and family had chosen to donate in order to save our baby’s life.”
The Easter weekend is the first holiday the family has spent at home for the last while.
“We are super excited to relax, not do a whole lot, and just enjoy each other’s company."
(With files from Mark Villani)