Note: Our Web story reflects the wait time for Mara to receive a transplant
From essentially the day their beautiful bundle of joy, Mara, was born, Gina and Tony Petrochello have lived life on pins and needles.
"She couldn’t even sit up unsupported at one year,” Gina said. "If she got a common cold, we would be in the hospital."
Mara was diagnosed with a rare genetic liver disorder called “citrullinemia”. She was born without an enzyme in her liver. It means her body couldn't get rid of toxic ammonia. In other words, Mara was in for an uphill battle.
"At four days old, we were faced with our daughter needing a liver transplant."
It was the beginning of a long journey for Mara and her parents. There were countless hospital visits. Many near-death experiences. Also, a lot of sleepless nights for them. Their little girl needed a portion of someone's liver. Donors came and went--and with it some hope for their baby girl.
"We had three false alarms," Gina said.
After all hope seemed lost, Gina made a desperate attempt to find a donor on Facebook. Her post reached 20,000 people in 24 hours. Lost hope turned into renewed faith. It’s all thanks to a complete stranger who delivered a miracle—a local nurse Cindy Farrell.
"How many people get a chance to save someone's life?,” Farrell said. “It's a one in a lifetime experience."
Cindy signed up without hesitation and after more than a year-long wait, Mara received a “sliver of liver” from Cindy.
"It was great for me,” she said. "It was really no sacrifice."
Not a sacrifice to Cindy, but it means the world to this family.
"There will never be enough thank you’s,” Gina said. “How do you thank someone that saves your child's life?"
At Mara's birthday party and the 1-year anniversary of her surgery, she can't be stopped. She runs. She eats. She's happy.
What a difference a year makes.
“It’s a blessing,” she said. “It’s overwhelming.”
Mara will need medication for the rest of her life. But, she can now live a normal life thanks to Cindy.
The family created a GoFundMe account. If you would like to help, you can click here.