Shelby Harrison has cystic fibrosis and is desperate need of a double-lung transplant. Her prospects looked good, until she recently turned 18. It was then that she was removed from one of two organ transplant lists, because she is now considered an adult. The list she had been on was a pediatric list.
She now remains on the adult list and is waiting for her version of a miracle, because Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children has become way too familiar for 18-year-old Shelby Harrison.
"There's not much to say. Whenever I get sick, I come in for IVs, go home for about a month, month-and-a-half, and then I come back," Shelby says, shaking her head. "That's kind of the routine right now, until I get a transplant, if I do."
Shelby is at 26 percent lung capacity now, and it fluctuates. She has to cope with mucous build-up, infections which force hospital stays that require antibiotics administered through an intravenous port.
When we first met Shelby and her family at their home back in November, they were all focused on a holiday transplant, when more organs typically become available. Now, as time ticks on, Shelby explains, "My only hope is to get the transplant in time to walk across the stage with my class."
Shelby will graduate from high school in May, but because of her susceptibility to illness, she has been home schooled. Even tonight, as we continue to follow her emotional journey toward what we hope will be her happy ending, Shelby has a way of making us feel better. She does it, without pulling any punches and it's rare and inspiring.
"There's always the 'if.'" she says. "You can't leave it out, because it will just make things worse." Shelby continues, "Just not expecting, just getting way worse. I know quite a few people that didn't tell anyone, and then I heard they passed away. Everything happens for a reason, so I'm not worried about it. I know it will come."
And we hope it does.
Four-thousand people in Florida are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. According to Donate Life Florida, less than half of those people will most likely get that transplant within a year.
Shelby and her family is praying she is one of those recipients. We do too.