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.

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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.