10-month-old Gives Gift of Life

At just 10-months-old, Charli gave the ultimate gift – the gift of life to someone in need. Diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Charli spent most of her life in Lurie Children’s Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit. 

“Charli had the most beautiful smile. She loved Moana, Coco, and music-especially playing with her maracas,” recalled Krystal, Charli’s mom. “She wore bows in her hair every day and loved rolling over on her stomach! The nurses were always so excited to take care of Charli because she was just the happiest baby.”

In hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the left side of the heart — including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve — is underdeveloped. This heart defect is usually fatal within the first days or months of life without treatment. It isn't correctable, but some babies can be treated with a series of operations or with a heart transplant.

While waiting for a new heart at home, in early March, Charli experienced cardiac arrest and during her transfer to Lurie Children’s passed away. 

Faced with the unthinkable, Charli’s parents decided to donate her organs to give someone else a second chance at life. 

“We decided to donate Charli’s kidneys. We couldn’t imagine being on this side of organ donation and having to do this, but as hard as it has been, we thought if we could help someone live on that would make us feel like we were honoring Charli,” said Krystal. 

Organ transplantation gives thousands of children and adults each year a renewed chance at living full and active lives. However, the need for organs and tissue outweighs their availability. Committing to be an organ donor is a generous decision that can save the lives of up to eight individuals, and even more if a donor can give corneas and tissue. Almost anyone, regardless of age, race or gender, can become an organ and tissue donor, and there are no costs to the person’s family or estate.

“Organ and tissue donation helps so many families find meaning amid a parent's worst nightmare: the loss of a child ,” said Meg Pairitz, Donation Specialist, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, who worked closely with Lurie Children’s and Charli’s family to facilitate Charli’s organ donation. “Our work is to support families throughout this process and beyond, so they can see the impact of their decision to give life to others amid their loss. Charli and her family are an inspiration—through their compassion, Charli lives on in the lives she help to save and heal.”

“Knowing Charli has helped give someone the chance of fulfilling their life brings us comfort,” said Krystal.

Lurie Children’s and transplant centers around the country wouldn’t be able to perform these transplants without commitments from donors. Lurie Children’s honors all of our families, and families throughout the United States who have made the selfless decision to donate their loved one’s organs. You are a hero. Click here to register to become an organ donor.

Learn more about the Siragusa Transplantation Center at Lurie Children's


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