MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - A Drummonds, Tennessee family is racing to beat the clock as their baby girl awaits a heart transplant needed to save her life. 1-year-old Aria Draffin has been at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital since last month.
This baby is on the second most critical group in the national transplant list, and doctors told the family she doesn't have more than two years without a new heart. That's why her dad is asking others to give with their hearts, so this child can live and thrive as a little girl.
On November 13th last year, 1-year-old Aria went limp and stopped breathing, terrifying her father Cliffton.
“She was approximately dead for about 20 minutes,” he said.
Paramedics revived Aria, but doctors discovered a life-threatening condition; dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart can't pump blood effectively.
"That's my child, I'd do anything for her,” said Draffin.
Aria is now at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital tied up to machines but still full of smiles.
"She's wanting to crawl, she's wanting to play but she's restrained,” said Draffin. "She's happy, she's a normal toddler, she wants to play."
While she's stable under constant doctor care, if Aria doesn't get a new heart in the next two years, she'll die.
"Any sickness, anything, I could lose my daughter,” said Draffin. "Life and death. Literally we are just trying to save our daughter's life, that's all we're doing."
That's why the Children's Organ Transplant Association, or COTA, is so important. They set up and give fundraising assistance to families facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in heart transplant-related costs, like Aria's.
"All we are trying to do is save our daughter's life and try to give her somewhat of a normal childhood,” said Draffin. "She doesn't have a year or two, she needs to have the transplant as soon as possible."
So far, Aria's family raised about $4,000, but with a goal of $600,000, the hard work is just beginning
"Anything helps. Anything. Be it a dollar, be it you pass it on to somebody else, just the further you get the message out there, the better chance we have in saving my daughter's life,” said Draffin. "It will be there for the rest of her life, so whenever we need it or we have to come back for another transplant or another surgery, the funds will be there."
COTA helps 200 new families a year. The money raised, which isn't taxed, also covers additional transplants required for children later in life.
If you'd like to donate to Aria, CLICK HERE.