Amelia’s Story :: One Family’s Commitment To Bring Awareness To Organ Donation

Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Ochsner Children’s Hospital but is an authentic first hand account from a mom, Stephanie Hill, whose child received treatment at Ochsner Health System. 

Amelia’s Story :: One Family’s Commitment To Bring Awareness To Organ Donation

Why organ donation is important As a nervous parent, you can dream up a list of a million different ways your children could be harmed. I can honestly say that my 5-year old needing a liver transplant wasn’t on my list, but that’s exactly what happened.

Amelia's Story :: One Family's Commitment To Bring Awareness To Organ DonationOn February 1, 2018, we were blessed with the birth of our first child, Amelia, who we call Mia. She was a firecracker from the start, always was ahead of each developmental milestone, and so very verbal. She loved spending time with her family, and we were always amazed by her abilities in each new stage of life.

Amelia never had any health problems besides the typical seasonal cold.

In May 2023, what seemed like a typical stomach bug, turned out to be a severe diagnosis of Acute Liver Failure, caused by an unknown virus. This is rare, and like we soon found out, very serious.

We finally arrived at Ochsner’s Children’s Hospital after two ambulance rides, two hospital admissions, and a helicopter ride. Once we settled in the Pediatric ICU, we were given the news that she was suffering from Acute (Sudden) Liver Failure. Dr. Ryan Himes and his team did toxicology and genetic testing which came back normal. So, the cause of this was from an unknown virus that created the perfect storm which attacked her liver.

She was put on dialysis, a ventilator, and countless IV’s within 24 hours. Amelia was considered Status 1A Critical, which is the highest level. Through our lens, she was slipping, and we were living every parent’s worst nightmare.

On the same day, we were introduced to several medical professionals and hospital staff members. They walked us through what was happening and the likelihood of Amelia needing a liver transplant. One meeting I’ll never forget was with the transplant coordinator, Jeanne Bergeron. She explained the different PELD (Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease) scores. We asked her “Have you ever seen a score like Amelia’s and not need a liver transplant?” Jeanne replied, “No.” That is when it sunk in that Amelia needs to be listed for a liver transplant, and the medical team listed her for a liver transplant the very next day on May 6, 2023.

While waiting, the nurses in the Pediatric ICU were calm and collected. They assured us they have her, and they were confident in Amelia’s resiliency. That evening, we received news that an organ match has been received, and we should prepare ourselves for the surgery.

Watching our little five-year old connected to machines that were keeping her alive, you look back on all the simple times you take for granted like the the smell of her baby hair, all the late nights rocking and singing her to sleep, and simply watching her grow into this beautiful little girl. You think about all of the things she was destined for, and how this rare but terrifying medical condition could take all of that away.

Her surgery was scheduled for 2:00am on May 8, 2023. Once we walked her back with the surgical team to the elevators, we knew this was it. The doors closed, and our Amelia was about to embark on a journey none of us could have imagined.

At 8:00am on May 8, 2023, we received the call that the surgery went perfect, and she will have a long road ahead of her. At that point, we were just thrilled that her road will continue. Dr. Seal and his team performed the surgery on the liver. Dr. Bruce and his team performed the surgery on Amelia. With their hands and God’s grace, they saved our little girl.

Fast-forward to today; we are one month away from her one-year liver-versary! Amelia’s journey to recovery continues. Her story has impacted so many people, especially ours. As parents, we’ve completely changed our outlook on life because we realize how fast things can change. Savor every moment, and stay present with your kids. She will always be our Miracle Mia.

April is Donate Life Month. Did you know that one registered organ donor can save up to 9 lives? Join us in making a difference and learn more at

Jesse and Stephanie Hill, Amelia’s parents
Jesse and Stephanie Hill, Amelia’s parents


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