Community comes together for toddler awaiting transplant - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Community comes together for toddler awaiting transplant

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Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- A toddler from Hixson is sedated in a Texas hospital.

Thirteen-month-old Elizabeth Jetton suffers from a rare lung disease and a transplant is her only chance for survival.

Elizabeth has been sedated since December.

Now her parents, a Unum employee and Chattanooga Police officer, are trying to raise awareness about organ donation.

For the last year, Matt and Sheila Jetton have lived in and out of hospitals, including T.C. Thompson.

After Elizabeth was born, doctor's held out hope that her underdeveloped lungs would grow.

But in December, she was transferred to Houston, Texas after her condition took a turn for the worse.

"She just loves to play and you can sit in the floor and read her a book and I miss those times when she's awake," says Carrie Daniels, Elizabeth's aunt.

Carrie Daniels hasn't seen her niece, brother or sister-in-law since December.

"She's a big smiler and we miss having her home, but she's just going to have to get well," says Daniels.

Elizabeth has been in the pediatric intensive care unit at Texas Children's Hospital since December awaiting a double lung transplant.

Her parents, Matt and Sheila, haven't left her side.

"So basically when she was born at 38 weeks her lungs were developed to what a 26 week old baby," says Sheila.

Elizabeth was born with a rare lung disease called pulmonary interstitial glycogenosis.

She has also suffers from pulmonary hypertension and congenital heart defect.

When she arrived at Houston Children's, the toddler was initially kept in a paralyzed state.

"She doesn't ask somebody twice and I've seen her take care of a situation with a person that's about twice her size," says Bryon Boller.

Officer Bryon Boller worked patrol with Elizabeth's mother, Sheila.

Since July, Jetton has been on an extended leave of absence.

"It's like a family. Just like any other family, we'll take care of each other," says Boller.

They've done that by holding a fundraiser auction for the family, raising more than $10,000.

Since July, officers have also donated leave time to Sheila so her paychecks keep coming.

Daniels says, for Matt and Sheila, no sacrifice is too great for their daughter.

"They're just completely dedicated to her. I mean there's nothing else that will get in the way of what she needs," says Daniels.

The average transplant wait time is two to eight months.

Transplant lungs are the most commonly rejected organ, so finding a perfect match is critical.

Even though Elizabeth is a year old, her small size means she'll need lungs the size of a six-month-old.

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