The death of any child cuts right through the heart. Little Olivia Swedberg was a young, vibrant 3-year-old. She was in love with Disney's "Frozen", and could recite the whole movie by heart. She adored strolling around in princess dresses rather than regular pants and had such gusto for everything life had to offer. No one could have guessed that the beautiful young girl had a tumor growing in her brain. Olivia and her family's worlds' collapsed on May 7th. That's when they found out that the precious 3-year-old had terminal brain cancer. So far, the story is pure tragedy of course. But as I read what happened after her death, this story became so much more, and I just had to share Olivia's miracle.
3-year-old Olivia Swedberg from Nebraska, USA, never got to experience her fourth birthday. On May 7, 2015, she was diagnosed with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), a terminal brain cancer that currently cannot be cured.
Her parents were obviously devastated when they heard the news. But they decided that they would make the best of it, and that little Olivia would live the fullest possible life before they would be forced to say goodbye.
They took her to Disney World, where they’d organized a private ball for her. She had her very own night out as a princess, and had had the opportunity to swim with the dolphins.
That trip would be her last happy memory. Ten days later, on June 30, 2015, Olivia died. Parents Brock and Lauressa started a Facebook page in Olivia’s honor and memory, and the page spread. But no one imagined that little Olivia would soon affect change for so many.
This is where this sad story takes a positive spin. A woman from Pittsburgh stumbled upon Olivia’s Facebook page. She had a 2-year-old son. And he had only weeks to live. The woman began following Olivia’s story and expressed her condolences. Meanwhile, her son was in desperate need of a new liver.
It was upon encountering the desperate mother that the Swedbergs took the decision. They knew that couldn’t save their own daughter, but they could save someone else’s child from the same tragic fate.
Olivia’s tumor didn’t affect other parts of her body, and her liver was still healthy. It could give life to Lucas Goeller, the terribly sick little boy.
Olivia’s mother describes her feelings after the successful operation. “I woke up every morning and thought about my daughter. But when I saw Lucas after he received her liver, I felt such peace and comfort because I know she would continue to live. I grieve and cry, but I always carry with me the fact that Olivia saved this little boy.”
And Olivia’s miracle doesn’t stop there. Lucas was not the only child she helped. After a very sick 4-year-old Angelo Giorno received her intestines, the young boy managed to survive longer than anyone had expected. Ultimately, he sadly passed away in early September. A young 22-year-old man would also benefit from Olivia’s miracle. He received Olivia’s kidneys. Her precious heart, meanwhile, was offered to 1-year-old KeVon, and one of her eyes helped a blind man regain his sight.
Needless to say, her story has spread virally and she is being hailed the “miracle girl of many”.
If the tragic but truly uplifting story of the 3-year-old princess that disliked wearing pants hit you in the heart as it did for me, make sure to spread it.
Organ donations are voluntary choices of course, but it’s nice to see just how powerful their outcome can be.
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