April 22, 2014 at 2:46 PM
WESTFIELD, NJ — This Friday, April 25, Westfield High School will hold “Dress in Purple Day” to raise awareness for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) in honor of 15-year-old student Elle Haley, who had a successful liver transplant in August of 2012.
“The first ‘Purple Day’ was held last year at Roosevelt Intermediate School and then St. Paul’s, where I went to preschool, joined in and had a ‘Purple Day,’ too,” said Haley. “Wow, all the teachers and students were so supportive of me. I just feel so grateful to them all.”
Haley was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis and, after a harrowing bout with sepsis, received 35 percent of her father's liver. Today, she still struggles with transplant-related issues including organ rejection, which requires immune suppressing drugs that can make even a typical cold dangerous for her. She keeps her body as strong as she can by playing tennis and swimming for WHS.
At school on Friday, in addition to wearing purple, students will be encouraged to donate a dollar to COTA in honor of Haley, which will go to help children like her obtain transplants and cover transplant-related expenses.
“I am overwhelmed by the community’s support. It’s so comforting to know that everyone is praying for me each time that I hit a bump in the road,” said Haley. “Just feeling their support gives me strength.”
April is National “Donate Life” month and more than 100,000 U.S. patients are waiting for a solid organ transplant, with another 30,000 searching for cord blood, marrow or stem cell match. Every day 19 people die while waiting for an organ transplant.
On Sunday, May 17, a Family Fun Run to raise awareness of COTA will be held at Oak Ridge Park in Clark. For more information and to register as an organ donor, visit www.COTAforelleh.com.