Something incredible just happened in Chicago

It’s being called a Christmas miracle, and it happened just in time for Christmas for one Chicago family with a sick child.

The phrase “Christmas miracle” gets thrown around a lot this time of year, but what just happened to a 5-month-old boy suffering from a rare disease may qualify. Little Daniel McCabe was at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, waiting for a liver transplant that could save his life due to a rare liver disorder called biliary atresia. As it turns out, he didn’t have to wait long at all.

Despite the fact that most people have to wait months or even years on the donor list before a match is found, Daniel had to wait all of 40 minutes after being placed on the list. A liver suddenly became available on the deceased donor registry, and it turned out to be a perfect match for the child, an incredibly rare thing to happen in such a short period of time. In fact, just 43 people nationwide have waited 40 minutes or less for a liver, according to an NBC Chicago report.

Every year, 6,000 people receive a liver, but 14,000 people are stuck on the waiting list, with an average wait time of 149 days for adults and 86 days for children, time that little Daniel may not have had.

Surgeons flew to Wisconsin to recover the liver and take it back to Chicago. They placed it in a cooler of ice and flew a Learjet to get the liver to Daniel as quickly as possible. They cut it in two, as livers regenerate and the other piece could be used to help another patient in a nearby medical facility.

“It’s one in a million, you know, I can’t ever remember having something like this happen,” Dr. Riccardo Superina said according to the Sun-Times report. “We were prepared to wait a few months, in fact at one point I think the plan was to evaluate one of the parents for donations.”

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