BUFFALO, N.Y. - A Buffalo toddler is alive thanks to a lifesaving organ transplant from his aunt.
"He was a healthy little boy, running around, playing and then bam...one day, he's yellow and on life support," Janel Little, the toddler's mom, said. "He had 24 hours to live."
Last Thanksgiving, 21-month-old Aiden came down with what seemed like the flu. But each day, he got worse.
When his skin turned yellow, his mom said she knew it was more than the flu.
She took him to Children's Hospital where doctors discovered an infection attacking his liver. His enzyme levels were through the roof.
"They said there was nothing that they could do because they don't specialize in that type of liver specialty so they decided to flight lift him to Mount Sinai Hospital," Janel explained.
Once at Mount Sinai in New York City, doctors determined his liver was failing and if he was going to survive, he would need a transplant immediately.
They put him on life support and estimated he had about 24 hours left.
The family frantically searched for a donor. His mom did not match. But his mom's sister did.
"They're in New York and it's Sunday...Sunday night," Josephine Little, Aiden's aunt explained. "And we're all trying to figure out what our blood types are. Nothing's open. Nobody's in the office."
Monday morning rolled around and Josephine's doctor delivered the good news that she was a match.
All in the course of the morning, Josephine was on a plane to the city and at the hospital, prepping for surgery to give a portion of her liver to Aiden.
"It was literally do or die," Josephine explained. "There wasn't a question in my mind and I'd do it all over again if I could."
Eight hours of surgery later, they both came out ok.
Aiden bounced right back and his transplant liver will continue to grow as he grows.
Josephine's liver will take a few more weeks to grow back completely.
It would be a traumatic experience for anyone, not to mention a toddler. But it built a bond between the two family members to last a lifetime.
"If anyone knows this child, before this surgery he was not fond of me," Josephine laughed. "But now he's standing here. He likes for me to play with him now. I think he kind of knows."
This is not the end of the story for the family. Doctors said the infection is still dormant in Aiden's body and he will likely be on medication for the rest of his life.
He also has to go back to Mount Sinai for check-ups once a month for the next year.
If you'd like to help the family, you can donate here.
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