Make Life Happen: Our Granddaughter's Transplant Triumph!

Read our personal story and how you can register to become an organ donor!

By Missy and Rickey Robertson, Publisher, Macaroni Kid Monroe - West Monroe February 14, 2024

Our personal story: It's hard to describe the pain that rushes over you when you realize you are helpless. As a mom, I always had the answers, the problem solver of the family, there was nothing I had faced that was too big, but it was coming. - Missy Robertson, Publisher and Eila's Grandma

My son was living in Wyoming and we spoke often so when the phone rang and I saw his name, I knew that a great conversation was on the way. He is a musician, producer, and sound engineer. I was always ready to hear his new music and studio stories. There was an uptick in his voice and I knew I was about to hear some very important news, "Mom, Caiya, and I are having a baby!" 

Later in the pregnancy, during a routine prenatal check-up, they found out they were having a little girl and that she had a congenital heart defect. My phone rang, "I have no fear, I know, without a doubt, that she will make it through this and so will we." He was so sure, the call left me with peace and confidence.

Every telephone conversation had the same positive outlook and even when Eila was born with more medical complications than expected, he never wavered. Caiya embraced every challenge with grace, even when Eila was rushed into surgery at six days old to repair one of the holes in her heart. The emergency surgery was needed to reduce blood flow so that she could live and further develop in preparation for the next series of operations. 

Photograph by Morgan Brown

The surgery went well, and shortly after Morgan, Caiya, and Eila entered into rigorous routines with continual medical appointments and therapists, and they learned how to be at home full-time nursing staff. Each day that passed brought hope that she would live until the next round of operations...there was no doubt. 

Photograph by Morgan Brown

Here it comes, the moment when you can't breathe because helplessness strangles you. After 4 and a half months, my phone rang and on the other line, I heard someone struggling to breathe. The 'no fear, she will live, no doubts' left every part of my son's body and he was inconsolable. 

After a meeting with the medical and pastoral staff at a specialty hospital in Utah, Caiya and Morgan were told there was nothing more that could be done for Eila and that she was not a candidate for a heart transplant. They were advised to stop her medication and take her home with hospice care.

The 1,500 hundred miles from Monroe, Louisiana to Salt Lake City, Utah seemed like a million and there was nothing I could do. My knees buckled beneath me, and I prayed I could take their pain, but there was nothing I could do. My brain wasn't working, I couldn't find a solution and I kept seeing her smiling face, those plump cheeks that I never got to kiss. Keep in mind, all this was happening during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Photograph by Morgan Brown

The next day, my phone rang again. Morgan and Caiya were fighting for Eila's life, "Mom, we are getting Eila's medical portfolio and we are sending it to every hospital that will accept it in hopes of getting a second opinion." That kind of pain brings fight and bravery and these two young parents wouldn't give up.

Photograph by Morgan Brown

Within a few days, Children's Hospital in Denver, Colorado responded with great news, "We believe Eila is a candidate for a heart transplant." Immediately, the hospital sent a helicopter to Utah to transport Caiya and Eila to Denver, while Morgan returned to Wyoming to pack up their lives to prepare for a permanent move. They were all together again in a few days and within 2 weeks they got word that a heart had been donated and it was a perfect match for Eila. 

I have never cried so much, first happy tears, then the reality that a family's worst fear had just come true and their baby had died and even in their grief, they were helping us. They made life happen. 

Questech Spectrum | Monthly T-Shirt Club | Heart Awareness Month

Questech Spectrum's purpose is to inspire young adults on the Autism Spectrum to enter the workforce.


Did You Know?

  • There are 2,089 men, women, and children waiting for organ transplants in Louisiana
  • Another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes
  • Nearly one-third of all deceased donors are age 50 or older; more than 7% are age 65 or older
  • In Louisiana, a single donor can save lives, restore the sight of 2, and enhance the lives of 75 through tissue donation
  • Sadly, 8,000 people die each year (22 people each day — almost one person each hour) because the organs they need are not donated in time
  • About 58% of patients awaiting lifesaving transplants are minorities

How Can You Register to Save Lives?

The donation process begins when someone registers their decision to save lives. It is easy to register as a donor in Louisiana: 

  • At the Office of Motor Vehicles or Public Tag Agency when getting a driver’s license or ID card
  • Through the Louisiana Donor Registry
  • Through LA Wallet App

The next step is notifying family members or next of kin of your decision to be a donor. In addition to helping ensure that your decision is honored, telling your family and friends also takes the pressure off of them to decide during a stressful and emotional time.

REGISTER NOW (Takes less than 5 minutes).

LOPA (Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency)

Raising donor awareness throughout our state is a huge job. Our community team works with volunteers whose lives have been changed by donation and transplantation. Whether they are families and friends whose loved ones have given the ultimate gift of life, transplant recipients, or those who are currently waiting for a life-saving or life-enhancing transplant, our volunteers offer an up close and personal look at how a donation is MAKING LIFE HAPPEN throughout Louisiana.

In addition to working with community organizations and schools, we also partner with healthcare providers throughout the state (including eye banks, hospitals, and transplant centers), the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles, and national Donate Life initiatives.


LOPA invites you to a special event honoring donor heroes and all those who've said yes to donation. 

Monroe Path of Rememberance
Location: Kiroli Park
820 Kiroli Rd., West Monroe, LA
Date: 4/28/24
Time: 2 pm - 4 pm
Cost: $1.00 Park Admission

Three-Year Transplant Birthday!

On December 5th, 2023, Eila celebrated her 3 year transplant birthday! We are sharing this story so that people understand the importance of organ donation and the impact it has on the donor-recipient and their family. 

Photograph by Morgan Brown

Macaroni KID Monroe-West Monroe is a local publication for families in Northeast Louisiana. We offer a free weekly e-newsletter that will give you the scoop on local events, crafts, recipes, and guides that will help you find everything in one spot! Subscribe Now!