Family receives the greatest Christmas gift ever: A liver for their dying infant son

FOX 32 NEWS - They're calling it a "Christmas miracle" at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.

A tiny infant from Wisconsin in desperate need of a liver transplant got the call just minutes after his name was put on the list.

Little Daniel McCabe was dying. The four month old infant had been born with a rare liver disorder and doctors at Lurie Children's Hospital knew he needed a miracle to survive.

"We knew that he really needed a transplant like yesterday," said Dr. Riccardo Superina.

"He needed the liver. He was dire and his liver was almost done," said mother Melody McCabe.

But the average wait for a child to receive a donor liver is 86 days.

On Tuesday of last week, doctors put Daniel's name on the national registry at 10:10 a.m. Just 40 minutes later, they got a call.

"He was real quiet and then he said 'We have a liver.' And I was shocked," Melody said. "I hadn't even begun to think transplant at this point, because I expected to be waiting for a while."

Melody called her husband joseph who was in the middle of a business meeting in Wisconsin.

"So I go back to this meeting and they all look at me and I said 'A liver.' And it was high fives. It was crazy," said father Joseph.

It was crazy for the hospital staff, too.

"This is one of the more incredible things that's happened to me in five years I've been here. Patient in even the most critical statuses can go waiting from even a few days to a few months and even a few years," said Justin Boese.

The liver, from an adult male in his 30s, was cut in half and transplanted into Daniel during a six hour surgery the following day. Doctors say with good nutrition and time and healing, Daniel should be fine.

"It's really a matter of luck in a sense. While this happened very quickly and very fortunately, there are people who die every day because there's not an organ available," said Dr. Superina.

His parents say Daniel is already doing better. His skin is now a normal color for the first time in his short life.

"This Christmas is always gonna have a new meaning. Obviously we celebrate the birth of Christ. But now giving Daniel a second chance--It's a miracle," Joseph said.

For now, Daniel will continue to recuperate at Lurie Children's Hospital for two or three weeks before heading home to Wisconsin with his family.

As we said before, the surgeons cut the donor liver in half to fit in Daniel's body. The other half of the liver went to an adult in need of a transplant, which means one organ donor saved two lives.