Today is the first in a series of guest posts about gratitude because it’s so important to remember to step back and make a mental note of everything good in our lives. This first story by Kelly of Cloudy Day Gray had me in tears and is an incredible reminder of what can come of somebody giving the ultimate gift: life. The gift of organ donation saved the life of Kelly’s daughter Matilda. If you aren’t an organ donor yet and want more information, Donate Life is a great resource!
The Gift of Organ Donation for Matilda
That six week mark is often a big milestone for parents. Smiles begin, feeding becomes easier, nights might even start to calm down. But for us, that six week birthday was one that we will never forget. For our daughter Matilda, it will always be the most important day of her life.
Matilda was born on September 21st, 2012. She was healthy and beautiful, we took her home and ate chocolate cake to celebrate with our two-year-old son Parker by our side. Everything seemed perfect. But by the time Matilda was nine days old, she had been rushed to one hospital, transferred to another, and finally sent to New York City with a diagnosis of acute liver failure. She was put on life support and we were told she would most likely not make it.
Over the next five weeks she remained on life support. We found ourselves saying goodbye. Nurses started staying long past their shifts, they would whisper sweet words to her, hold her hand, and shed a tear or two. The doctors didn’t have much to say, but their sad eyes told us everything. She had fought long and hard, but time was something that could not be stopped. We made plaster casts of Matilda’s hands and feet, so that we could always keep a piece of her.
On November 2nd, 2012, Matilda’s six week birthday, she was offered the liver of a two-week-old who had passed away. Only 1% of Matilda’s original liver was functional at the time of removal. She was literally holding on to her last moments, waiting to receive the most important gift of her life. The transplant was a success. Matilda healed quickly with only a few minor setbacks.
On her four month birthday, we walked back into our home – with both our children in our arms. Matilda was healthy and beautiful and we ate chocolate cake to celebrate. It has now been two years since Matilda received her transplant. She is the most joyful child I have ever known. There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about how close we were to losing her – how different our life would be without her laughter, without her hugs, without her reminder of what is truly important.
I always considered myself a grateful person. But now I have the privilege of nurturing the most precious gift I have ever or will ever receive. Amid unthinkable tragedy, pain, and sorrow, a mother chose to gift me with happiness. To gift me with the opportunity to watch my child grow. To gift me with love, laughter, and hope. She chose to give a piece of her baby, so that mine could live.
We all have cloudy days, moments in time that are really difficult, I believe it is what we do with those cloudy days that defines who we are. I do my best to give, live, and love while advocating for pediatric organ donation as a way to not just be grateful, but live grateful.
Kelly, Cloudy Day Gray
Kelly Smith founded the blog Cloudy Day Gray after her daughter underwent a successful liver transplant at six weeks old. Since then she has been moving forward determined to give, live, and love a full life as a mother, wife, and donate life advocate. Her projects have been featured on MarthaStewart.com, Apartment Therapy, and You Are My Fave, among others.