7-year-old athlete competes in Canadian Transplant Games thanks to another child ‘s heart

Addison McArthur received a heart transplant in 2011

Addison McArthur, front, was able to live thanks to a heart transplant from the daughter of Felicia Hill, rear. (Matt Humphrey/CBC)

The Canadian Transplant Games are underway at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The biennial games run until Saturday and are meant to highlight the benefits of organ donation while also showing what is possible for people who receive transplants.

Friday will see seven-year-old Addison McArthur race down the track at Thunderbird Park. In McArthur’s chest is the donated heart that saved her life in 2011.

That heart came from another girl, Audrey, who lived just six days in the U.S. state of Nevada. Audrey became Nevada’s youngest organ donor when her parents decided to donate her heart seven years ago.

When McArthur was three weeks old, she received Audrey’s heart. Audrey’s mother, Felicia Hill, will be in the audience on Friday to watch McArthur compete.

‘Why she was born’

“It’s pretty incredible to see my daughter’s life and the reason why she was born,” said Hill.

“Audrey was born perfectly healthy. Three days later she stopped breathing in my arms.”

Hill said there was no medical reason why Audrey stopped breathing and said she believes she came into the world to save people’s lives with her organs.

“At six days old, she was able to save two people’s lives.”

Hill said doctors were able to save Audrey’s heart, which went to McArthur, and Audrey’s kidneys went to another woman in California.

‘A horrible price’

At the time of Audrey’s death, McArthur’s mother, Elaine Yong, was at B.C. Children’s Hospital being told McArthur’s only chance for survival was a heart transplant.

“While you’re hopeful that you still have a chance for your child, you know it’s going to come at a horrible price for another family,” said Yong.

“Every parent would give anything to save their child’s life.”

Yong said it was “incredible” to learn that her daughter would receive a heart only 48 hours after being put on the organ transplant list. While she was overjoyed at the news, she knew another family somewhere had gone through a tragedy.

“Knowing that another family was walking that same walk but given the bad news … It was incredible to know someone else had said yes.”

Hill said meeting McArthur for the first time was “indescribable” and all she wanted to do was give her a hug. They met when McArthur was two years old.

“I got my dream come true of just holding her … being able to watch her grow up. Now, she’s seven. Lots more life to live.”

The Canadian Transplant games is the largest organ and tissue donation awareness event in the country and has been running since 2000.

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