Ryley Mitchell is a cheerful and creative twelve-year-old because of the courage of a family who donated their child’s heart.
When she was only two months old, parents Jeff and Joanna Mitchell were terrified to learn their daughter was in heart failure. They watched as Ryley was airlifted from home to wait for a donor in intensive care. Ryley’s family waited for 10 long days until a match was found. Ryley was given a new heart and with it, she and her family were given their future.
Since the operation, Ryley has continued growing with a determination to make the most of the second chance she was given. She keeps an adventurous spirit at transplant camp, where she and her ‘transplant friends’, go kayaking, sailing, and shoot archery – all activities they’d be unable to experience without the selfless gift of a donor. “It has really made our family appreciate the smaller things in life,” her mother Joanna reflected.
Twelve years since her transplant, Ryley and her family have embraced the spirit of donation, sharing their story through personal presentations to local organizations. In 2017, she and her mother were awarded the Trillium Gift of Life Award for organ donation awareness. They see it as a way of being able to give back the gift they were given. “I am passionate about spreading donor awareness. I know that without my transplant, I wouldn’t be here.”
Ryley’s transplant has also allowed her to explore her artistic creativity. In recent years she has concentrated on Manga style drawings, a form of comic art popular in Japan. Ryley has donated two drawings to LHSC’s New Canvas online auction, which will take place May 30 to June 7. Proceeds will support LHSC’s Multi-Organ Transplant Program.
To view the art and bid online, visit tickets.grandtheatre.ca.