(KSDK) - Thousands of people are going to bed tonight, waiting for life-saving organ transplants. While many of them are adults, some are just a few months old. Tonight, the story of one child and the journey she and her parents were willing to make in hopes of saving her life.
It's Thursday morning in Denver, Colorado and Lucy Johnson is getting ready for her very first plane ride. At just five months old and with medical problems that would overwhelm any adult, this tiny bundle is leaving the care of Denver's Children's Hospital. Ben Johnson is Lucy's father.
"It's just scary, it's scary and we don't know the outcome," says Johnson.
Baby Lucy is bound for St. Louis, saying farewell to family and friends and a dad who will soon join her.
"We don't know how soon we'll be back, but the way we see it, however long it takes, whatever the outcome is," says Johnson. "It's going to be worth it.”
Born in July, six weeks premature, Lucy suffers from a life-threatening condition called Pulmonary Vein Stenosis. Her only hope of a full life, a lung transplant.
When the plane lands at Parks Airport in Cahokia, Illinois, the 850 mile journey is just about over.
Within minutes, Lucy is transferred from plane to ambulance, on her way to St. Louis Children's Hospital. Dr. Celeste Capers is part of Lucy's transfer team.
"She weathered it very well, and she's here safe and sound," says Dr. Capers.
St. Louis Children's Hospital is the largest and most successful pediatric lung transplant hospital in the world. It's where Marlena Field wanted her daughter to be.
"St. Louis I think is Lucy's only chance," says Field. "So we're here for new lungs and hopefully a chance at life."
Now the wait truly begins. The reality is if Lucy's little body can take it, a lung transplant could still be weeks or months away. Dr. Mark Grady is a Pediatric Cardiologist at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
"It's particularly difficult for families waiting," says Dr. Grady. "It's hard to predict and unfortunately, they don't always arrive in time, but it's the hardest part of the whole process not knowing when something might become available."
It's a wait Lucy's parents are willing to endure, anything to give their little girl a longer life.
"I don't think there was an option in our hearts," says Johnson. "She's too special of a person not to give a chance."
Lucy's father Ben will join his wife and daughter Friday. Transplantation has saved or enhanced the lives of more than 300,000 people in the United States, but many more are waiting