Preemie Beats The Odds With Rare Double Lung Transplant

by in Infant Lung Transplant, Micro-preemie, NICU, Organ Transplant, Unusual Baby Stories

Kali McKellips was born at 24 weeks weighing one and a half pounds. Spending the first few months of her life on a ventilator left her lungs damaged and scarred.

At around 5 months old, Kali’s breathing was getting more difficult. To help her, she underwent surgery to place a “trach” in her air way. The family hoped that the “trach “ would be able to help Kali’s lungs heal on their own and that her lungs would start to regenerate new lung tissue.

The doctors did a CT-scan to get a better look at Kali’s lungs. The scan revealed that her lungs were in very bad condition. It was uncertain how long Kali could keep on going. It was apparent that Kali’s existing lungs could not keep up with her growth. Kali’s health was in serious trouble and alternatives were in order.

After exploring the alternatives, the only option left was a “double lung transplant”. Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston was the clear choice for this operation for many reasons. Best reasons were that they sincerely wanted to help Kali and that their experience with lung transplants on small children stood out over the rest. At around 8 months old, Kali was transported down to Houston for testing to get her on the “donor list”. She was able to get on the list, but her health continued to get much worse. Then the family’s prayers were answered. On April 16, 2007 a qualified donor became available. The next day the outstanding transplant team at Texas Children’s Hospital successfully placed new lungs in Kali’s chest. She is recovering very well and at 9 1?2 months old, is the youngest lung transplant recipient at that hospital.

The little fighter is now 13 months old, doing well and is about to go home to Minneapolis for the first time with her parents.

Kali’s mother Janice McKellips said, “She’s never seen our house or her bedroom that’s waiting for her. She’s never slept in her crib.”

“We’ve been very proud of how she’s done,” Dr. Schecter told Eyewitness News. “Kali’s prognosis is very good. Long-term survival in all lung transplants three years post transplant is about 75 percent.”

Doctors all over the world continue to work miracles on these early arrivals. Kali is lucky to have parents that were willing to seek other treatment options to increase her chances of survival.


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SAHM of 2 boys and founder of, World Traveled Family and The World We Share. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!

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