‘Amazing they could do that:’ Baby who got organ donation now healthy 6-year-old

Organ donation has been in the spotlight after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan

Hailey Hague and her daughter Lily Hague pictured in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday April 3, 2019. Hailey donated part of her liver to her daughter Lily who was eight-months-old at the time. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Hailey Hague only has to look at her healthy, energetic six-year-old to know the importance of organ donation.

Soon after Lily was born, she was diagnosed with biliary artresia — a disease that affects about one in every 10,000 to 20,000 infants.

READ MORE: Green Shirt Day to honour Humboldt Broncos organ donor

“Right before Lily hit three months, she went into end-stage liver failure,” says Hague. “Her eyes completely went yellow … and she was sleeping. We had to purposely wake her up to feed her and that’s not normal.”

The next day, they found out her liver wasn’t working and she might need a liver transplant.

Organ donation has been in the spotlight the last year after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan left 16 people dead and 13 injured. One of the players, Logan Boulet of Lethbridge, Alta., had signed up to be an organ donor in the weeks before the crash and his parents followed through with his wishes.

Six people across Canada benefited from his organs. What has been called the Logan Boulet Effect soon followed.

Canadian Blood Services estimates that nearly 100,000 Canadians registered to become organ donors after the Humboldt crash and the story of Boulet’s donation. Another 50,000 people registered in May.

The head of the David Foster Foundation, which provides financial support to families with children who need organ transplants, says Boulet’s death shows the importance of organ donation.

“Through tragedy has come action,” says Michael Ravenhill. “Because of that one young man’s selfless act, he has actually changed the landscape of organ donation in Canada.”

An event called Green Shirt Day is planned for every April 7, the anniversary of Boulet’s death, to promote organ donation.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information says the country has a shortage of organs, with 4,333 patients waiting for transplants. In 2017, 242 Canadians died while waiting for a transplant.

The Hague family’s experience was in 2013. They moved to Edmonton from Abbotsford, B.C., to be closer to Stollery Children’s Hospital where Lily could get a transplant assessment.

Family members were willing to donate part of their liver, but Lily’s portal vein — the main blood vessel to the liver — wasn’t working properly and a living donor can’t provide one.

“She got moved to the transplant list because she needed a deceased donor,” says her mother.

After an infection, Lily was given three months to live and was bumped up on the transplant list.

“We needed to find her a donor. We needed to do something or she was not going to be here anymore,” said Hague. “I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me.”

Lily was transferred to Toronto’s SickKids Hospital for treatment while she waited for a donor.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” Hague says. “They told us about this new procedure … they could use the living donor’s liver and then they could take deceased vessel from someone who has passed away to create a portal vein.”

A liver donation would still be her best chance at survival, but now they had another option if the next liver went to another patient.

And that’s what happened.

When Lily was seven months old, her mother gave her 22 per cent of her liver.

“Somebody else, a little boy I think it was, passed away. His liver went to somebody else and his vessels created Lily’s portal vein,” says Hague. “It’s amazing that they could do that.”

A lot of people tell her that she’s her daughter’s hero.

“I don’t know,” she says. “I like to think of the little boy who donated his organ, his parents donating his organs — that’s her hero. I’m her mom.”

Hague says she’s encouraged by the recent focus on organ donation.

In addition to Green Shirt Day, Nova Scotia announced legislation last week that would have all residents be potential organ donors unless they opted out. It’s believed Nova Scotia would be the first jurisdiction in North America to adopt the measure.

Hague says she hopes every province follows suit.

“Oh my gosh, please, everywhere,” she says. “If everyone were an organ donor, could you imagine?”

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A mature Garry oak fell onto Richmond Road on Oct. 13 near Camosun College Lansdowne campus. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Garry oak crashes down onto Richmond Road

Saanich responded to 59 tree-related calls

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich residents warned to watch livestock after bear kills llama

Officers with Conservation, Saanich police could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

The Kildonan mansion at 931 Foul Bay Rd. is part of the Oak Bay heritage registry. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Oak Bay declines Kildonan House permissive tax exemption

Council briefs include new transformer for Oak Bay Rec., strata policy

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

The Saanich Teachers’ Association is calling on the local provincial election candidates from all parties to commit to making schools healthier and safer for all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich teachers call on election candidates for improved health, safety in schools

Increased funding, reduced class sizes among required changes, says association president

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
(Pixabay)
Wave of racist emails ‘unleashed’ on B.C. researchers investigating racism in health care

The team has received close to 600 calls and emails since the investigation started in July

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read