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9-year-old gets life-saving liver transplant on Thanksgiving

Posted at 6:37 PM, Dec 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-02 02:14:43-05

WAUWATOSA, WI - A day typically set aside for food and family takes on new meaning for one local mom after her daughter gets a liver transplant on Thanksgiving day. 

“Bella is a superstar," Katie Pape said. 

Born with a very rare disease called Kabuki syndrome, a disorder that can affect multiple parts of the body, Bella is also a fighter who’s spent most of her young life in and out of the hospital. 

“Even in the [darkest] moments in the last few weeks, we try to find humor," Pape said. 

Five years ago Bella underwent open heart surgery and chemotherapy, and just last week Bella was rushed to the ER at Children’s  Hospital and diagnosed with acute liver failure. According to Katie, her daughter’s liver wasn’t functioning at all and the nine-year-old was in desperate need of a transplant. 

“We really weren’t sure if she was going to make it through this time because she’s had a lot of close calls in the past, but this time was different," Pape said. 

Bella was only on the organ transplant waiting list for two days before getting her new liver on Thanksgiving. Her big brother Payton said his sister's transplant is the best thing that could have happened to brave little Bella and his family who’s already gone through so much. 

“She gets through everything so quickly that the doctors are so surprised with how she’s done this and she’s just the best," Payton Pape said. 

The Pape family is now on a mission to raise awareness about organ donation and encourages everyone to become a donor if they can.  

A fund has also been set up to help with Bellas medical expenses.