In their own words: Families share the impact of organ donation beyond saving lives.

The holidays are a time for gratitude and giving, a time to celebrate friends, family, the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. But for a select group, it also is a time to celebrate one of the greatest gifts — the gift of life through organ donation.

Mickey was born with a unique combination of congenital heart defects and spent most of his early life at Boston Children’s. He was one day shy of 6 months old when he received his heart transplant, and his family is grateful for every day since. “Mickey has shown us what courage and resiliency look like, and his transplant has taught us the true meaning of giving. He has touched so many lives and because of him, we have met so many amazing children and families, whose hearts and hopes far surpass their diagnoses.”

Laura received her liver transplant shortly after being diagnosed with biliary atresia. Though her family doesn’t know who their donor was, they do know it was a child around that same age and are so grateful that parents could open their hearts to save a stranger’s child in a time of grieving. She is fortunate to have encountered minimal complications post transplant, and her sister has been inspired to study medicine and one day become a doctor. “We always talked about being organ donors before Laura’s transplant, but now we’re advocates. You look at things differently when your own child is sick, and you learn to appreciate every little moment, because it means that much more.”

Kaden was born at only 28 weeks and one pound. He was diagnosed with stage III hepatoblastoma at 2 years old and is developmentally disabled and nonverbal. Despite these challenges, he is thriving and blessed to have received his life-saving multivisceral transplant. “Kaden’s constant smile, infectious giggle and love for music and dance always brighten our day and serve as constant reminders of just how lucky we are.”

Hunter is a two-time double-lung transplant recipient. He was born with pulmonary vein stenosis, and received his first gift of life at 21 months old. Following chronic rejection, he was transplanted again most recently at 7 years old. Every single day is a new reason to celebrate his life. “Organ donation has forever changed our family. Hunter is the happiest, most grateful child, and we are so thankful to live each day to the fullest, no matter what the circumstances may be.”

Aubrey was diagnosed with congenital nephrotic syndrome at 4 months old and by age 18 months had both kidneys removed and was on dialysis. She received her kidney at age 26 months, and in the months that followed, transformed to the amazement of her family. “Aubrey’s entire life has changed since transplant. She has the stamina to play, the strength to walk and is growing every single day.”

Ayden was diagnosed with cystic kidney disease at birth. After receiving a new kidney from his aunt, he is finally living a life without restrictions. “We feel so lucky that Ayden’s organ donor is someone who loves him as much as we do, but we would have been grateful to anyone who made this sacrifice. His transplant has made even the littlest things seem so significant.”