Highland Park toddler receives new heart followed by baby brother 3 days later

A routine pediatric visit turned into an extensive hospital stay for 15-month-old Opal Lang.

It's the generosity of strangers that gave this sweet little girl from Highland Park a second chance at life.

"I literally can't believe it," said Priscilla Lang, Opal's mother. "Some days I look at her and I just can't - I was the one that caught her when she was arresting, basically she collapsed into my arms."

A frightening situation for Priscilla Lang when the heart of her daughter Opal went into cardiac arrest. Opal was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a type of heart muscle disorder that weakens the heart.

"Her heart was just so sick that the pacemaker couldn't do its job anymore, so she rested at home and at that point I knew we were going to be at the hospital for a long time," Priscilla Lang said. "She was sedated and paralyzed for two weeks and that road lead us to knowing that she would need a transplant."

While awaiting that transplant, Opal was sustained through blood transfusions.

"Opal waited over four months and had to have transfusions while she was waiting and she was on a mechanical support device," said Dr. Elfriede Pahl of Lurie Children's Hospital. "So blood transfusions are critical to keeping our children alive while they are waiting for transplant."

After that long wait, the call came that Opal would get a new heart and much more. Just three days after the transplant, her baby brother Apollo was born.

Opal's family is grateful to the blood and organ donors that helped save her life.

"It's lifesaving, I mean if they can see her today from where she came from and know that they made a difference in her life and allowed her to be here with us this holiday season. I would give them the biggest hug. I mean I'm forever indebted to those people," Priscilla Lang said.

Opal's doctors said the transplant will give her a great quality of life and put no restrictions on the toddler, which is all thanks to kindness of strangers.

You have the chance to help save a life this week, during the ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive.

The drive will be held on Jan. 15, and it has expanded to four locations this year.

Click here for more information about the Great Chicago Blood Drive and how to make an appointment to donate.
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