A Memphis mothers gives her daughter a second chance at life with the help of Le Bonheur

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- When you look at these faces, it's easy to see 6-year-old Ariana Jones and her mom, Maria Mitchell, are not your average daughter and mother, but they're two people with a special bond.

"We take for granted we're going to wake up and everything will be fine and it's business as usual, but that's not true. Life is so precious and so dear," Maria Mitchell said.

If anyone knows just how precious life can be, it's Ariana's mom, especially when thinks about her daughter.

"She is before her time. She's not the average 6-year-old," Mitchell said.

Ariana's life has been anything but average. Earlier this year, she was taken to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital after becoming extremely ill at home.

"And within a week's time everything change like jaundice, face swelling and severe abdominal pain," Mitchell said.

The doctors at Le Bonheur ran several tests on Ariana, and they determined she was having acute liver failure.

Dr. James Eason is the program director of the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute, in partnership with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Le Bonheur. He is a professor at UTHSC and is a member of UT Medical Group.

"It was absolutely life or death. When a child gets in that situation and they run the risk of severe brain swelling and death from brain injury and we were already on the clock," Dr. Eason said.

On the clock meant Ariana only had 48 hours to live. Her mom remembers being in the emergency room when Ariana asked a question no child should ever have to ask a parent regarding death.

"We were just waiting and she asked me a question, and the question was will I ever see you again?" Mitchell said.

"I thought we were not going to see each other again," Ariana said.

You can probably imagine how heartbreaking those words were for Ariana's mom and her dad, Cedric Jones.

"She had 48 hours to live, and 24 of them had already expired. So to get some news like that it was unbelievable," Jones said.

"To hear somebody say your child has 48 hours to live, I honestly wanted to go jump off the bridge. No, me, fine, but not my child. She hasn't lived," Mitchell said.

To complicate matters even more so, there were no known donors for Ariana.

"She had been in that coma almost 48 hours and we didn't get any liver offers for her," Dr. Eason said.

Both parents were willing to be donors. Ariana's dad was tested but wasn't a match. All hope came down to her mom.

"The mom was the hero of this or the heroine. She came forward without any hesitance and was able to donate part of the liver," Dr. Eason said.

Maria gave her child a second chance at life.

"I said it was funny God had this worked out the whole time because I never would have thought that I was a match," Mitchell said.

She was a match, and the transplant surgery was a success.

"God is good. The transplant was successful and I was glad it came from the mother versus any other donor," Jones said.

These days Ariana's parents say she's back to being feisty and fun, and enjoying arts and crafts, gymnastics and...

"Doing cartwheels and splits and a handstand and a handstand walking," Ariana said.

She's able to do these things all because of a bond between a daughter and her mother stitched together even closer with the giant heart and care of the surgeons, nurses and staff at Le Bonheur.

"They're saving lives and the team is incredible. All the doctors, nurses and staff, they love kids and they're going to make sure these kids are OK," Jones said.

Kids like Ariana, who's not your ordinary 6-year-old and who received extraordinary care from Le Bonheur.

"They take care of me and they help me," Ariana said.


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