Girl once denied kidney transplant returns home healthy

PHILADELPHIA - October 10, 2013

5-year-old Amelia, or Mia, Rivera is home and back being entertained by her older brothers Joey and Nate.

Mia has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects her physically and mentally.

Right now, her mother Chrissy says Mia is healthy and happy to be with her family.

"She is just a lot of fun to be around. She definitely has that connection with people that kind of melts your heart," Chrissy said.

It's been three months since Mia had a kidney transplant; her mother was her donor.

She stayed about a month in the hospital and had a few setbacks, but it was a life-saving operation that almost didn't happen.

When I met with the family January of last year, they said a doctor at Children's Hospital told them Mia wasn't eligible for a transplant.

"Because of her mental retardation was the word he used," Chrissy said at the time.

That sparked outrage online. Thousands calling it discrimination.

CHOP later apologized and released a statement saying it does not disqualify transplant candidates on the basis of intellectual ability.

Chrissy and her husband Joe say now, they have no hard feelings. They say the care at CHOP was excellent, but they also don't want anyone to forget.

"This wasn't a onetime deal that happened just to us, this happens across the world, across the United States," Chrissy said. "We hope that we can move forward as a society and include everybody."

The Riveras are also moving forward, almost back to their regular routine...

"Nighttime, when I get home from work, we kind of lay on the couch, sit here, and watch the hockey game," Joe said.

And Chrissy says her hope for Mia in the future is that she stays happy and healthy.

"And shares her love with as many people as she can because she brings a lot of happiness to our family," Chrissy Rivera added.

Mia's story also helped pass a bill in New Jersey that prohibits discrimination against transplant recipients based on mental or physical disability.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia released the following statement Thursday:

"We are gratified that the care and skill of the CHOP Transplant Team and clinical support staff have helped Amelia and her family and are very pleased with the successful surgical outcome. Throughout this process, we have been inspired by the love Amelia's parents have shown for their daughter, and, in particular, their fervent advocacy on her behalf.

The field of pediatric medicine requires constant learning, refining and perfecting of practices and procedures – both clinical and interpersonal. We appreciate the role the Riveras have played in helping us recognize opportunities for improvement and believe we are a better institution as a result. We look forward to providing Amelia and her family the very best of care long into the future."

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