Ellie Lauree was born on January 15th, 2010 at 12:42pm. At 8lb. 7oz., she was a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby girl. For nine months she charmed us with her sweet smiles and pretend shyness. She made us laugh daily. For nine months, Ellie was our bright light.
On October 23rd, 2010, Ellie spent the day enjoying the Children's Museum. She was playful, silly and her regular self. On October 24th, 2010, Ellie suddenly became ill. She awoke, happy and playful, at 2 am with a low-grade fever. By 10am, we were in the ambulance, on our way to the hospital. Within hours, she was breathing through a tube and barely hanging on. She was transferred to another hospital and put on ECMO, the heart-lung bypass machine. Sadly, Ellie's illness was very severe and her doctors were unable to get ahead of it. In the early morning hours of October 25th, 2010, we set Ellie free. She left us in the arms of her proud Mommy and Daddy, and surrounded by her loving family and friends.
We later found out that Ellie had a spleen that was not functioning properly- functional asplenia. This allowed a very common and usually harmless bacteria (pneumococcus) to invade her body. Ellie's illness may have been preventable if we had known about her spleen problem. However, we never had any reason to suspect it wasn't working correctly, and we unaware of how vulnerable her little body was to the germs around her. Her doctor's called this the worst kind of bad luck.
Ellie's sudden and tragic death left us numb and devastated. Suddenly we were facing everyday without the joy Ellie brought into our lives. Ellie awoke each morning with a smile on her face and it rarely left. Our sweet girl loved to cuddle up with her fuzzy head tucked beneath our chins and growl with excitement. With her blankie wrapped around her chubby little fingers, she spent each day enjoying the simple things around her and showed those around her the world through her beautiful blue eyes. She is truly an angel.
As Ellie's family and friends, we want to ensure she is never forgotten. We will keep Ellie's Light shining.
Ellie's Transfusion Story
Our sweet and silly little girl suddenly became gravely ill on October 24, 2010. Within 25 hours, a seemingly benign fever turned into an extremely rare and deadly illness. When Ellie arrived at the hospital, the staff was stumped. No matter what they did, her illness progressed. For some reason, Ellie was becoming septic and her body was not responding to any treatment. Her body started showing signs of a complication called DIC. Essentially, her body depleted itself of all its clotting ability. It was at this point that Ellie started receiving blood products. As Ellie’s condition further deteriorated, it became obvious to the doctors that Ellie would not survive. As a last ditch effort, the decision was made to put her on ECMO (the heart-lung bypass machine).
The ECMO machine takes the blood out of the body, oxygenates it, and sends it back into the body. The machine requires several units of blood to operate. This combined with Ellie’s sepsis and complication, DIC, meant she used a lot of blood products. We are not entirely sure how many units of blood products Ellie actually received due to some inaccuracies in her chart. But I can remember a doctor at St. Paul Children’s calling Memorial Blood Bank to say that Ellie had used up all the supply there and he wanted to make sure Minneapolis Children’s would be prepared for her when we arrived for ECMO.
I would guess that between the two hospitals, what the ECMO required and what Ellie’s sick body needed, she used at least ten units of red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plasma and cryo. The nurses were constantly bringing blood products into the room.
It wasn’t until after Ellie’s autopsy that we learned her spleen did not work and she never stood a chance against the “high-velocity” germ that took her life. In the end, no amount of blood was going to save Ellie’s life. Her fate was determined before anyone even knew she was sick. But each and every unit of blood product brought into that room gave her a chance. It gave us hope. We can look back and know that every effort was made to save Ellie. Without the blood, she would not have survived more than a few hours. The transfusions allowed our family and friends to get to the hospital to say goodbye and to be with us when we set our little girl free.
We are incredibly thankful to those who took the time to donate their blood, never knowing that it would give our little girl a fighting chance, and her family peace of mind knowing that everything possible was done to save Ellie’s life. And for us, that’s an incredible gift.