Katya Todesco's organs give others the gift of life
Katya Todesco was just five years old when she died from injuries she suffered after being mauled by a pit bull at a friend's house in Simi Valley in 2008.
But young Katya's parents made the decision that her life was not to be lost in vain. They agreed to donate her organs so that others might receive the gift of life.
And on Monday at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Katya was posthumously honored by hospital officials -- and by those who live because of Katya.
Seven year-old Kyle Martin, who suffered from a blood-flow limiting heart condition called restrictive cardiomyopathy, received Katya's heart. When Kyle was just five, doctors had estimated that he might have two years to live without a transplant.
Kyle's mother Lina Martin said Kyle is doing wonderfully well now -- thanks to Katya's gift. "We have been given a gift beyond measure," Martin said. "Beyond anything we can ever repay."
At Children's Hospital Katya's parents listened to the beat of their daughter's heart inside Kyle's chest. The Todesco and Martin families have met a few times since Kyle's transplant two years ago.
Katya's transplanted organs and her family's kindnesses have spawned the Donate Life flag program, in which hospitals nationwide raise a flag for a week to honor families who have donated their children's organs. The first flag in the program was raised on behalf of the Todescos -- and Katya -- in 2008.