Donate Life Colorado: Liver transplant saved Lella’s life

DELTA, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- There are about 250 people waiting for a life-saving transplant on the Western Slope. For Lella Young, she was only two months old when she was put on the transplant list.

She is only here today because someone ticked that box and chose to become a donor.

"It saved her life,” said Lyndall Young, Lella’s Mother.

Lella is like any ordinary 10-year-old girl. She dances, sings, and swims competitively.

"I went to the Junior Olympics, I qualified for the 100 backstroke in swimming this year,” said Lella Young, liver recipient.

However, her start in this world wasn’t smooth sailing. "She was put on the transplant list to receive a life-saving liver transplant,” said Lyndall Young.

When Lella was just two months old, her mother noticed her daughter's eyes were turning yellow.

"When she was two months old she was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, which is a condition that scars the tube that drains your liver and we had rushed to children's hospital for some tests,” said Lyndall.

Her condition was so rare, neither her father or uncle could donate parts of their liver. So the wait was on for a donor.
"Yeah, it was very scary times for the whole family,” said Lyndall.

They turned to Colorado Donate Life, where they were put on a waitlist. Two months later when Lella was just five months old, they found a match.

"That family made that decision during the darkest time in their life that saved my daughter,” said Lyndall.

17-year-old Mindy from Iowa was killed in a car crash, her liver was rushed across the country to Lella in Denver’s Children’s Hospital.

"We are very close now and they've been out here, we go there, we actually just got back from there, they do a memorial bike ride every June,” said Lyndall.

"Feels like I’m visiting family,” said Lella.

Colorado Donate Life transplanted more than 400 organs last year alone. 68 percent of Coloradans and two-thirds of Western Slope residents are signed up to be organ and tissue donors.

"It is hugely important, because there are so many people waiting for a lifesaving transplant, even here on the Western Slope there's approximately 250 people waiting for a transplant, in Colorado we say around 2,500 are waiting, nationwide there over 100,000 people waiting for a transplant,” said Colin Larkin, Regional Donation Consultant.

In a world where we hear about so much sadness.

"Sometimes they can split the liver and give it to two people. But they actually took the majority of the liver and gave it to Lella and she has slowly grown into it,” said Lyndall.

This is a story of hope, at least for one family on the Western Slope.

Lella will be honored Saturday night at the Grand Junction Rockies game at 6:40 p.m., where she'll be singing the National Anthem.

For more information about Colorado Donate Life click on the link next to this article.

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