The day after Thanksgiving, I had to work a rare night shift. I was resigned to the fact that I was probably going to be assigned a Black Friday story, and I don’t particularly like Black Friday: The crowds are massive, and I end up spending a bunch of money on things I don’t need in between live shots.
As I was walking into work, I saw a post on Facebook that piqued my interest. It was from a dad of an 8-month-old baby girl, in the hospital for more than three months waiting for a heart transplant. Ellie Lim was born with an enlarged heart, and the only way she would ever live a normal life was to get a new, healthy heart. In the post, Ellie’s dad said that he had always tried to remain upbeat when sharing news of his daughter’s condition, but this time, he wanted to be real and raw and tell everyone that, if people don’t consider organ donation, including child organ donation, people like his daughter won’t survive.
There was a story here, and it wasn’t Black Friday! I pitched it to my producer as a piece on the importance of child organ donation.
Sick kids don’t usually make for organ donors—it’s usually healthy kids who had a horrible accident who are candidates for child organ donation. So their parents are forced to make this decision on the worst day of their lives.
The family agreed to the interview. Even the hospital let us in on short notice (thank you UCLA).
After the interview, I mentioned to the parents that the last time I did a story of a baby girl waiting for a heart, she ended up getting it a few days after we aired her story. The PR people had joked it was the “TV good luck charm.” Of course, I knew my story had no bearing on when and who gets a heart, but it was nice to have a happy ending.
Ellie’s mom said to me, “Well, hopefully you’re good luck for us too!”
I smiled, told her I did too, and we headed to the truck to edit.
Just before we were done, my phone lit up. It was Ellie’s mom, messaging me on Facebook. They had just gotten the call from their doctors: Ellie had a heart! I couldn’t believe it, and neither could Ellie’s mom and dad. We were all in shock.
Saturday, I woke up and eagerly checked my phone. Ellie was heading into surgery and now, I am happy to report, Ellie is the proud owner of a new, healthy heart. Because of the donor and his or her generous family, this baby girl finally had a shot at a long life.
I know Ellie’s parents will always think that our news crew was their good luck charm, and that makes me smile.
But I will always know that Ellie did so much more for me than I did for her: She reminded me to hug my kids a little tighter, and she reminded me of the importance of the greatest gift one can give, the gift of life.