Louisiana 4-year-old spends Thanksgiving in the hospital waiting for lung transplant

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Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 10:26 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - We first met Ava Thomas back in August. She’s a Louisiana 4-year-old who’s spent the past 6 months in a hospital awaiting a new set of lungs.

7News followed up with her family as they anticipate spending the holidays at a Houston hospital.

For little Ava Thomas and her family, the holidays are going to look a little different this year.

“It’s going to be hard when those days, like Halloween was hard for me. Ava wasn’t feeling that great, so we did never get to dress up,” Ava’s mom Jennifer Thomas said.

The Thomas family is spending Thanksgiving and most likely Christmas and even bringing in the New Year at the hospital where they’ve spent more than half the year already after Ava got sick with pneumonia.

“She has cystic fibrosis, so the pneumonia really hit her very hard,” Jennifer said. “Once we were here, they thought once they hit her with full very strong antibiotics that it would heal. Her lungs did not heal.”

Now it’s a waiting game for new lungs.

“We’re waiting for that phone call. We never imagined we’d still be waiting now but because of Ava’s size, it’s much harder to find a donor that size and we understand that and we’re being patient.”

Right now, Ava’s condition is stable as she’s on ECMO treatment which is bypassing her lungs that don’t work.

“She’s breaking records,” Ava’s dad John Thomas said.

“Yes, we’ve set lots of records here in the hospital,” Jennifer said.

“But she’s maintaining,” John said.

Her parents said she’s been the youngest patient in the hospital to have been on ECMO for more than 190 days.

“She’s confined to a bed, but you wouldn’t know it just talking to her,” Jennifer said.

Despite her daily hospital routine from various treatments and physical therapy, Ava is still one spunky 4 year old.

Now with the holidays approaching her room has already been decked out for Christmas as the Thomas family remain optimistic.

“The days just keep coming and going,” Jennifer said. “We’re staying positive and just waiting for that special phone call.”

Her family said even if Ava get’s a match for a lung transplant today, that would mean they’d still have to spend about 3 months more in the hospital for her to recover from surgery.