AURORA, Colo. — A Wyoming family now calls Colorado home as they wait for an organ donor to help their 8-month-old child, who was born with an uncommon heart condition.
“It's just not the Christmas, you know, or the firsts we thought we were gonna have,” mom Sarah Bahige said as she held her baby inside Children's Hospital in Aurora.
Bahige and her family are from Wyoming. Yet, Colorado is now home for her and her son Jelanee, after he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and life-flighted to Children’s in September.
“His heart was really enlarged. It was like two thirds of the size of his chest,” she explained.
Tubes and hospital equipment have been keeping Jelanee’s blood pumping for the last two months, as he waits for a new heart, via donation.
“There’s not really an update, which is hard, because it's just waiting indefinitely it seems like,” Bahige said.
That waiting, and the world of organ donation, is entirely new to this family.
“It doesn't start at the bottom and you move up the list,” Bahige explained. “Jelanee is what’s called a ‘Status 1A,’ which is the top of the list. And just here in this hospital, there's like six other kids that are 1A.”
So the Bahige family started a social media campaign to raise awareness. They took to Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, sharing Jelanee’s story and pushing the importance of organ donation.
“Through organ donation, he can have a future, you know. He can grow up, he can go do all the things that every other kid is going to do,” Bahige said.
Jelanee needs a specific age and size of a heart, which is a difficult idea to cope with for this family, as another child would need to pass away to be able to donate a heart to their son. But for the Bahiges, they recognize that if someone of any age were to pass away regardless, that a choice to be an organ donor could make a world of difference for someone else.
“Everyone should be a donor, just to give all other kids on the list chance that a real life, you know, a full life outside of a hospital,” she said.
The family has started a GoFundMe to help with hospital expenses as mom Sarah stays in Colorado, while the rest of the family travels back and forth. To donate, click here.
To become an organ donor in Colorado, head here.