Last Christmas season, Jace Riley’s mom prayed she would have her son long enough make Christmas memories. She dreamed of having the opportunity simply see him walk, watch him open Christmas gifts, sing songs, and enjoy holiday treats.
That almost didn’t happen.
Riley was born in May 2014. Five days later, his mom thought he had a virus and took him to the doctor. Before she knew it, he was being rushed to Kosair Children’s Hospital in heart failure. Kosair saved his life with his first open heart surgery as an infant.
That’s where Jace Riley’s mom and dad, Lacey and Cody Riley, would learn the news of their son’s ailment.
“He was born with half a heart, but that half a heart stole all of mine,” said Lacey Riley.
The Riley family was told that a heart transplant was the only cure to save their son. They assumed this surgery would happen in just a few weeks. However, due to a shortage of organs, they waited months and month, while Jace Riley fought for his life.
“We were losing our boy right before our eyes,” said Lacey Riley.
Doctors at St. Louis Children’s Hospital told the Riley family that they could try an innovative VAD operation. It had never been done on a single ventricle.
The surgery was successful and kept Jace Riley alive and fighting for his second chance at life. On Christmas Eve, their doctor came into the hospital room.
Lacey Riley said, “We learned we would receive the ultimate gift. Our donor family said, ‘yes,’ and saved our son’s life that day.”
Jace is now 19 months old and recently celebrated one year since his transplant on Christmas Day.
“He is our miracle baby, and our donor family is our hero,” Lacey Riley said.
Many individuals wish to give back but struggle to find the time and means to do so. One free option that everyone can do is join the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry.
Grayson County Circuit Court Stacie Blain, whose office assists individuals with registering to become an organ donor said the following of organ donation:
Although we may not be able to save a child’s life today, we are able to give hope simply by registering. There are over 122,000 patients waiting for an organ transplant this Christmas. Each day, 22 patients will lose their fight, and their life, waiting.
As your Circuit Court Clerk, I’ve been involved with this mission of organ donation for many years. I am so proud of our Deputy Clerks for asking every person obtaining a license or ID if they would like to donate $1 to increase education about organ donation. We also ask everyone to join the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry. It only takes a moment to say “yes” and be hope.
We feel honored to give everyone the opportunity to be part of the lifesaving team. Thanks to the kindness of this community and the dedication of my hardworking staff, many of you have already joined the Registry over the years. However, the need is still there. 49 percent of Kentuckians are registered donors. Everyone in town can join and get the blue heart on their license. If you have questions about organ donation, you can call the Trust For Life at 1-866-945-5433 and talk to professionals about the Registry and organ donation.