Girl who died of Strep A saved another child's life by donating her heart
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An 11-year-old girl who passed away from Strep A has saved a teenager's life by donating her heart.
Lacey Ferdinando’s family are understandably devastated by the loss of their little girl, whose ‘smile could light up any room', but they have found comfort in the fact that somebody has been given a second chance at life because of her.
Mum Lisa, who has set up a GoFundMe to help with memorial costs, told Tyla that Lacey, who was born a twin at 32 weeks, had quadriplegic cerebral palsy with hypertonia, which she was medicated for.
She also had global developmental delay, microcephaly and she was registered legally blind, though she had some sight.
"Despite all this, she was the happiest little girl and was always smiling and laughing," said Lisa.
But during winter last year, Lacey went into cardiac arrest.
Dad Terry gave her CPR until the ambulance arrived and she was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in London.
Although doctors were able to get Lacey's heart beating again, due to the oxygen her body had lost, she was required to undergo checks.
It was later discovered that she had invasive group Strep A, a severe strain of the infection in which the bacteria invades parts of the body such as the blood, deep muscle and fat tissue, or the lungs.
Doctors also conducted a brain stem test for brain activity, and it was at this point the donor team came in to speak to the parents.
"They explained that although Lacey had suffered lack of oxygen and some of her organs were damaged, we had the option to donate if that was something we would like to do," said Lisa.
"Without hesitation, we said we’d like to donate and help another person."
Lisa and Terry were told that they didn’t have to make a decision until after the tests came back, although in their minds they already knew the answer.
The results came back to show there was no brain activity and Lacey was sadly pronounced dead.
When the donor team returned, they went through the details and explained how each organ could be used to help both children and adults.
"We said yes to everything," explained Lisa. "If we could help another family not go through what we were having to go through then there would be something good to come out of it."
Not long after the hospital started searching for patients, they found a child on the heart transplant waiting list - and amazingly, it was a match.
It all happened very quickly, as organs typically need to be transplanted within four hours of removal to remain usable.
A few weeks later, the family received a letter notifying them that Lacey’s heart had saved the life of a teenage girl.
Lacey’s corneas were also donated to give somebody the gift of sight.
Lisa and Terry's five other children received age appropriate letters telling them what their brave sister had done and just how big of an impact she's had on others' lives.
Lisa continued: "The hospital also asked our permission for the recipient and their family to be able to get in touch with us in the future if they wished, which we agreed to.
"We asked for them to be told that we don't want them to feel as if they can't contact us or to feel that Lacey had to pass away in order for them to receive her heart.
"The way we see it, she didn't need it anymore and there was a child who did."
The family praised the staff members at Great Ormond Street Hospital's PICU, saying that it was a hard job but that they 'couldn't have asked for better care for Lacey'.
"It's been a heard few weeks for us as a family," said Lisa. "One minute Lacey's father and I are okay and the next it just kind of hits us that she's gone.
"It still doesn't feel real. It all happened so quickly and she never showed any signs of having invasive group Strep A.
"One of the only things making this a little bit easier is knowing that there is a child who potentially now has their whole life in front of them and our Lacey made that possible."
If you can contribute to the Ferdinandos' GoFundMe and help support them through this tough time, follow this link.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677