LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Last June we told you about Amelia Fowler, an 8-month-old girl from Little Rock in desperate need of a liver transplant. Back then, Rock City Outfitters had just designed special t-shirts to raise money for Amelia's care.
In the fall, her health took a turn for the worst. However, thanks to a Christmas miracle, sweet Amelia's days will soon be merry and bright.
There's something about sick children that pulls at your heart strings and also breaks your heart. In Little Rock, that child is Amelia Fowler.
Something about the infant's smile, through all the pain, caused by no fault of her own, drew together complete strangers to help her get the care she needed. But what she really needed was a miracle.
A few weeks ago she got one - a Christmas Miracle and a second chance at life.
It's all smiles from the now 15-month-old Amelia, exactly what you'd expect from a happy baby her age, until you hear her story.
"She really did quite well for a long time. But come late October, early November, she got RSV. At that particular time, we saw her health take a pretty big dip,” her dad Jack explained.
Amelia has Biliary Artesia; a condition which requires a liver transplant.
In June, we told you the Fowlers were saving up financially for the eventual transplant. Her dad, Jack, was a match and would be able to donate if Amelia's condition worsened. Until then, she was on a very long list of transplant patients.
"We went three times to Arkansas Children's Hospital from late October through the beginning of November. On her last stint at Arkansas Children's Hospital, they sent us to St. Louis. Her health just really deteriorated,” he said, explaining doctors feared the infant, with such a weakened immune system, may have a deadly condition called Cholangitis. "That was causing her liver to really start to fail at more of a rapid rate than it had been doing over the last six months."
Amelia's deteriorating condition pushed her to the top of the transplant list.
"They said 'ok, Dec. 22 is going to be your day to donate for her.' At this time, Amelia, you could just tell she was just so sick,” Fowler said of the plans for surgery.
Then, on Dec. 8, they got the call.
"She just said 'I have a liver.' And so, I was like 'ok. What can you tell us? They could only give us very little information, so I took that, and she said 'you have 15 minutes to decide,'" the father went on to say.
Imagine being given 15 minutes to decide whether or not to put a stranger's organs into your child to save their life. The choice was not an easy one for Jack.
"That's been something that has really been kind of hard for me. I know she needs that, but I guess personally for me, it's been a big struggle to understand that somebody else had to lose life for Amelia to live life."
Dec. 9, Amelia got the greatest Christmas gift of all: a new liver and a real shot at life. And, on Dec. 22, she got to go home - just in time for Santa.
"It's so nice to be able to see her wanting to move and groove and it is definitely keeping us on our toes,” her mom, Mary Lu said with a chuckle.
The baby that was so sick is back with a vengeance. She's ready to tackle any obstacle thrown her way, with a smile on her face, and a family that loves her.
"I think Molly Kate put it best when she said, 'you don't have to cry anymore. Amelia has a new liver,” Jack told us finally.
Amelia's parents have to essentially keep her quarantined during cold and flu season, but know they won't be able to keep their social butterfly cooped away for long.
Thanks to her new liver, the little girl, that captured so many hearts has a bright future ahead of her.