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Rocco Rose-Liver recipient

Dara prayed for a child for the longest time.  Having survived breast cancer, it was not easy for her to get pregnant.  You can imagine her elation when she and her partner, Demarcus, found out they were pregnant with their beautiful baby girl, Rocco Rose.  “We were nervous throughout the whole pregnancy, but we were so excited to have her.  She was truly a blessing” explains Dara.

“When Rocco was born, we were absolutely thrilled, however, that excitement quickly turned into fear as she fell ill within the first 4 days of her life.  It was absolutely heartbreaking.  She needed surgery; we couldn’t leave the hospital.  My family had planned a ‘welcome home’ cookout for when we brought her home, but she never came home… not until 3 months later” says Dara.

After they brought Rocco home, the struggles continued.  Rocco had lost weight, and she would scream uncontrollably because she was in pain from her liver not functioning the way it was supposed to.  She was in the hospital every weekend; “it just wasn’t how I pictured motherhood.  I loved this baby so much, and I didn’t know how to help her.  I was mad, jealous, and envious of others with healthy babies.  I ran through the gambit of emotions, but at the end of the day, I was mostly worried for my daughter’s life”, explains Dara.

Rocco was placed on the transplant waiting list when she was 5 months old.  Dara says, “So many things ran through my head.  Demarcus and I didn’t know how to pray for her gift because we knew the sacrifice that needed to be made for our girl to live.  I was so afraid of her missing out on her childhood.  I was afraid of missing out on motherhood in general.”

“The scariest moment on the transplant waiting list was when we almost lost our girl.  She was napping and then something shifted and she went completely limp.  I got her to the hospital as quickly as I could, screaming and in full panic mode.  They took one look at her, grabbed her from me and ran her down the hall to save her life.  It was the most terrifying moment I can remember.  They came back and told us that they were moving her up to ‘critical status’ on the waiting list.  We were already at the hospital when we got word that there was a match.  We were so hopeful for our family, but we knew what it was like to almost lose our child and how excruciatingly painful it must be for our donor family, who actually lost theirs”, says Dara.

Dara explains that when they prepped her for surgery Rocco was the calmest she had ever been.  It was the first time Demarcus and her had been separated from Rocco, but they just knew that she was going to be okay.  “After surgery it was so difficult to see our child hooked up to machines.  She just seemed so helpless, and to not be able to hold her and comfort her was extremely hard, but we knew it was only temporary and would help her in the long run”, says Dara.

Today Rocco is doing great.  She has been sick off and on, but mostly she is a normal toddler.  “She is SO fun.  She is sassy, She is dramatic, She plays outside, She has a favorite stuffed animal; she is our Rocco.  She recently started sleeping through the night and playing by herself.  These are the little things that people take for granted, but are HUGE milestones for us”, explains Dara.

“If I could say anything to our donor family it would be ‘Thank you’.  It is so hard to put into words what we feel for them. There are no amount of ‘thank yous’, there’s no amount of gratitude that I could show that could explain the love I am feeling for them.  I would show them Rocco; the girl they saved.  I would tell them I pray for them every night and that their Son’s spirit lives in her; how she is a tomboy at heart and absolutely fearless.  I would tell them that they didn’t have to make the decision they made, and how we celebrate every morning because we have her and we have them to thank for it”.