Five-Month-Old Baby Dying at Hospital. Forty Minutes Later, Doctors Tell Mom the Unthinkable…


On Dec. 13, at 10:10 am, Daniel Paul McCabe was placed on the top of the transplant list looking for a new liver. The 5-month-old suffers from a rare liver disorder called biliary atresia—a disease which damages and constricts the bile ducts within the liver leading to jaundice and cirrhosis.

In early December, he arrived at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois for a routine evaluation but his condition quickly worsened. Doctors moved his name to the top of the transplant list hoping he would be able to last until an appropriate match was found.

Thankfully, Daniel and his parents, Melody and Joseph, did not have to wait long before receiving the good news that there was a donated organ available. In fact, it was in record-breaking time they received word of a match!

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, over 14,000 people are on the transplant list waiting for a liver. Approximately 22 people die each day while waiting for a transplant

The average wait time for a child in need of a liver transplant is 86 days. Daniel only needed to wait 40 minutes.

“This is one of the most incredible things that has happened in the five years that I’ve been here,” Justin Boese, Organ Procurement Specialist at Lurie Children’s Hospital, said in a statement. “The shortest wait time I have seen here was at least 12 hours, so 40 minutes is very unusual.”

The following day, two surgeons arrived at a hospital in Southern Wisconsin to remove the donor liver from a man in his 30’s declared brain dead. Since he was an organ donor, doctors kept his body on life support in order to preserve his organs until harvesting.

With his liver safely stored in a cooler, the surgeons flew back to Midway Airport arriving at 4 p.m. Dr. Riccardo Superina began transplant surgery on Daniel around 8 p.m. The operation lasted nearly eight hours and was a success.

Remarking on how quickly the liver became available for Daniel, Dr. Superina said, “It’s one in a million, you know, I can’t ever remember having something like this happen. We were prepared to wait a few months, in fact at one point I think the plan was to evaluate one of the parents for donations.”

As amazing of a story this is, Joseph knows it was all the work of God. “We have a very strong prayer network, and I can only chalk this up to some sort of divine intervention,” he said.

Melody added that the Christmas season is going to mean even more to them now than it did before. “I think from here going forward for us Christmas will have a double meaning,” said Melody. “Not only celebrating the birth of Jesus but also having a second life for our son.”

Daniel was not the only person helped by this liver donation. Since the liver has regenerative properties, doctors were able to split the donated organ and give it to another patient in need.

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