A Liver Transplant Helps Make Dreams Come True for Young Woman
Lavender McKillip of Sparks, Nevada has always loved books and spends a lot of her free time reading. It is her dream to become a librarian—a dream that she can achieve because of the organ donation she received in 2021.
At just seven years old, Lavender had stopped growing. She remained at a constant height of 4’9” and 75 lbs, regardless of anything she and her parents tried. Little did her parents know this was the first sign of her battle with liver disease.
Over the next seven years, Lavender underwent various medical tests until finally being diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, which affects the liver. She was placed on the national transplant waiting list in early 2020.
A year and a half later, Lavender received the phone call that changed her life. The successful 8-hour liver transplant surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, was the greatest gift she could have received for her 16th birthday.
“I do not know my donor family, and I cannot imagine the pain they felt losing a child, but I hope that wherever they are, they feel a little bit better knowing that their loss was not for nothing,” Lavender said. “Thanks to them, I’ve gotten another chance at life.”
2023 was another big year for Lavender.
- Donor Network West and UCSF Health invited her to raise awareness and celebrate organ donation at the Rose Parade on January 2, 2023, where she rode on the Donate Life float. The 2023 float, titled “Lifting Each Other Up” ending up winning the highest honors!
- On April 14, 2023, Lavender ran the bases during the first of six Reno Aces’ Home Run for Life baseball games at Greater Nevada Field.
- In June of that same year, she graduated from Innovations High School. Here, she helped create and expand the school’s library.
In addition to wanting to become a librarian, Lavender remains committed to raising awareness of the importance of organ donation. She hopes to inspire others to join the registry so more lives can be saved.
“I’ll do everything I can to show everyone the value of donation,” she said. “It’s the least I can do. Organ donation saved my life—it’s only fair that I show people how to save others.”
Organ donation changed Lavender’s life forever and she was given the greatest gift of all – the Gift of Life. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can heal more than 75 others. It only takes a minute for anyone to become a registered donor.