Eight-year-old Kyree Beachem was born with Hirschsprung’s disease, a condition in which she had a colon that was missing nerve cells. This results in severe constipation, diarrhoea, vomiting and other life-threatening colon complications.
In 2010, Kyree received a small intestine transplant, but her body rejected the organ about 10 days later. Subsequently, she was forced to go on IV nutrition for 22 hours a day and was no longer able to attend school.
Over the years, more of Kyree’s organs deteriorated and she eventually needed more than one transplant. After a five-year wait for a multi-organ transplant, the Beachem family received a call on Thanksgiving Day that there is a suitable donor. Within the next few hours, Kyree was already in surgery to receive a new liver, pancreas and small intestine.
The rare multi-organ transplant was done in the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and caught the media’s attention. Kyree’s mother, Nan Beachem, was contacted by CNN for a story before Kyree was even out of surgery.
A relative of Evelyn Morales then read CNN’s story and started to investigate whether the organs Kyree received was from five-year-old Arianna Morales, Evelyn’s late daughter. As they analysed the timing, ages of the girls and other details, they put two and two together and figured out that Arianna was indeed the donor.
Through social media, the Moraleses and Beachems were able to get in touch with each other and set up a meeting.
Speaking to The Huffington Post, Nan said, “The meeting with the Morales was obviously very emotional but memorable.” There were smiles and laughter as the families exchanged stories about their little girls, and discovered similarities like their love for Tinkerbell, Frozen, guitars and baseball. There were also tears when they talked about the days leading up to the surgery — about Arianna’s fight against a sudden illness in particular.
Although young Kyree did not completely understand everything that was happening, Nan said that “she did understand their compassion”.
Read on to find out more about Arianna’s condition which caused her passing.
Arianna had a brain disorder and passed away from a sudden illness on the eve of Thanksgiving Day.
After failed attempts at saving Arianna’s life and trying to figure out what caused the sudden illness, doctors had to let her parents make the decision to turn off her life support.
“No parent wants to make the choice of what time to turn off life support,” Evelyn said.
It was an impossible decision to make, but the burden were somewhat lifted was when the Gift of Life Donor Program, a nonprofit organisation that coordinates organ and tissue donation in the region, stepped into the picture.
The Moraleses have always understood the significance of organ donation, as Arianna’s dad — Luis Morales — himself may need a heart transplant someday due to his congestive heart failure. So when it was brought up to them that their daughter’s organs can be donated to save others’ lives, they found a little solace in that.
The Gift of Life entered Arianna’s organs into their database began looking for a match. All of her eligible organs, except for her lungs, were donated to four different suitable recipients.
Nan shared with The Huffington Post, “I never wanted a family to lose their child so that mine could live. But the Morales family wanted to see another child live if their angel was given her wings. Not only has Kyree be given that chance, but three other families are holding their child’s hand because of Arianna’s gift of life.
“It’s our hope, and that of the Morales family, that it will help people see the miracle that can happen because of organ donation awareness,” she continued.
According to the Gift of Life website, the identities of the organ donors’ and recipients’ families are made known to each other, unless special effort is made. Patient confidentiality is strictly observed and any correspondence between the families of donors and recipients are reviewed by a family support services department.
But thanks to the news and social media, the Kyree’s and Arianna’s families found each other.
“Most people don’t meet the donor family for at least a year, but for our families, we all share a bond that is like no other,” said Nan.
The Beachems refer to Arianna as “Kyree’s Angel”.
Photos credit: Kyree’s Dream Team on Facebook
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