18 Month-Old Canberra Girl Donates Heart and Becomes One of Australia’s Youngest Organ Donors

Eighteen-month-old Ezabella ‘Bella’ Wilson was born with Tracheoesophageal Fistula (TOF) and a rare chromosome deletion disorder.

Starting her young life with surgery straight after birth to attach her oesophagus to her stomach, Ezabella was under constant medical care.  Despite her medical needs, the toddler’s family did not know that their daughter’s condition was dire.

On December 21 little Bella fell ill. By the following Tuesday her family brought her into a routine medical appointment, only to have the doctors immediately admit her to the hospital. Over the course of the day her health deteriorated, resulting in her heart finally stopping. After 25 minutes of intervention, the medical team were able to restart Ezabella’s heart. That said, the length of time that had passed left the doctors concerned over brain swelling.


Kept on life support, the 18-month-old was unable to survive on her own. The following days included a lengthy list of medications, machines and a stay in a specialised hospital unit. Christmas came, and Ezabella was still in the hospital on life support. Her family, trying to keep the day as normal as possible (given the strain and severity of the situation), brought their holiday barbecue celebration to the hospital.

Bella’s aunt Hailee McArdell told ABC News, “It felt wrong to be celebrating so much when Bella was upstairs in a bed, so we just kept it as not Christmas-y as possible, but still try to brighten up the day a bit.” Keeping the day positive was primarily to help Ezabella’s siblings, a 4-month-old sister and 10-year-old brother, at least somewhat normal.

By Boxing Day, doctors had news that no parents would ever want to hear – it was time to say goodbye to their daughter. With no improvement, the medical team and family made the unimaginably difficult decision to remove the life support. McArdell said, “It never felt real and it was really hard to leave that day knowing it would be the last time.”


As the family grieved, they had some comfort in the ‘gift’ that their toddler was able to give to another child in medical need. Through the tragedy came light.  Ezabella’s heart was donated to another child and her heart continued to beat inside another child. The day after her death, Bella’s heart gave life to a child who may not have stood a chance otherwise.

“I like to think that’s the best gift Bella could have given,” said McArdell of the donation.

Donations to make a difficult time ‘a little easier’

The family has begun a My Cause campaign to raise funds to help them out during this tragic time. Proceeds will help the family support themselves while going through the grieving process, pay for funeral costs and help them to by a new pram (their current double pram is a sad reminder of the beautiful young toddler who they lost). The family plans on donating any left over funds to Chromosome 6 research.

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Ezabella’s mum Naomi says, “We really don’t know what happened. As of the 26th none of the tests they had done had come back positive and they were testing for other things but I don’t have those results.”

Her dad Nick also writes of the family tragedy, along with the love that he has for his daughter:

“Ezabella is 1 year, 6 months and 26 days old. I feel like you should all know that for a period of time that was much too short my daughter existed and she was beautiful.”

As the Wilson family grieves, waiting for the medical results that may tell them exactly what happened to their daughter, another family has become blessed with the possibility of health and happiness for their own child.

No parent ever imagines having to experience the sadness and grief that comes along with the death of a young child. That said, Ezabella’s joy and beauty will go on through the life that she has given to someone who she will sadly never know.

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