The transplant journey affects those of all ages, and for Tatiana and Steve Orellana, their daughter’s transplant journey began at birth. Leiya Orellana is a bright-eyed 26-month-year-old baby who was diagnosed with Pulmonary Vein Stenosis at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP). On December 5, 2012, Leiya was listed for a double-lung transplant. For the Tatiana and Steve, finding a pediatric lung for Leiya was a great cause of concern and distress, as they were not finding similar stories to their daughter. Fortunately, Leiya received a double-lung transplant and was discharged from the hospital on September 4, 2013- finally home-bound from a place Leiya has known since birth.
Throughout Leiya’s journey, Tatiana and her husband resided at the Gift of Life Howie’s House. As New Jersey natives, the close proximity to the Children’s Hospital from the Gift of Life Howie’s House was one less burden for the family. The Orellanas were able to sleep comfortably at the House and wake up well-rested for their long day at the hospital. During their stay, Tatiana was especially grateful for the level of understanding each House guest shared, as each of them are navigating through the transplant process.
“You go there and everyone understands. It is very comforting” Tatiana explains.
Throughout this process, there were moments when the Orellanas felt lost and confused, however, with a courageous spirit and support from the House, they were able to persevere and see their wishes come true.
Tatiana and Steve are happy to report that Leiya is doing better than ever! She is no longer reliant on a ventilator, and will hopefully have her tracheostomy removed soon. While she has had a developmental delay, Leiya is thriving as she is cognitively “caught up.” Through her various physical therapy sessions, Leiya is learning to physically advance and will be walking in no time. For the Orellana family, things are looking up every day. “It feels good to be on the other side of the transplant journey” Tatiana expresses. While this process was a bumpy road for the Orellanas, Leiya’s journey has been a life-changing experience. “Our baby teaches us about life everyday” Tatiana says- and what a precious gift that is.
Moving forward, they are excited to provide a helping hand to the Gift of Life Howie’s House transplant patients and families, as they understand the degree of stress this journey can entail. Specifically, the Orellanas hope to be Home Cook Heroes, a program where volunteer groups cook meals for the House guests each night, as that was an invaluable asset for the Orellanas when they were guests themselves. As a “home away from home” for transplant patients and caregivers, the Gift of Life Howie’s House always strives to provide our families with optimal care and comfort. While this process can be filled with uncertainty, the Orellana family demonstrates that there is success through the transplantation process, and the Gift of Life Howie’s House will always be there to provide comfort and support.