EASTON, Maine — Pete and Kristina Lento were thrilled when they were able to bring their daughter home on Oct. 5. After more than a monthlong stay at Boston Children’s Hospital, 8-year-old Paige Lento was going back to Maine to attend a benefit supper held in her honor.
Paige was born with Jeune syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the way a child’s cartilage and bones develop. Earlier this year, the illness progressed to the point that she needed a new liver and kidneys, and she was put on the transplant list.
The doctors said Paige could be waiting “two weeks or two years” for the organs, Pete said Friday.
“We all had a great time at the supper,” he said. “And the next night, my wife and I decided we needed a date night, so we headed to a restaurant. And through all of this time, we’ve been praying, and we’ve had this tremendous community support behind us. So my wife and I were just talking in the car, and then the phone rang.”
It was a life saving call.
“All I heard was ‘come on down, we have the organs,’” Pete said. “And my wife just started screaming, just screaming with excitement.”
The family, which includes 6-year-old Chloe, prepared themselves as Paige went back to Boston Children’s Hospital. Because her kidneys had failed so badly, she had spent more than a month at the facility prior to her transplant surgery undergoing dialysis treatment.
Pete said that Paige was initially scared when she received word that the organs had become available, but she soon calmed down.
“We talked to her, and she realized that this surgery was going to make her feel better,” he said. “She knew this was the key. This surgery was going to allow her to have a better life.”
Paige underwent a 12 hour surgery on Oct. 7 and suffered no complications. Family and friends were amazed at how quickly she rebounded, spending only 16 days in the hospital.
While Paige underwent surgery, the Lento family updated friends about her progress on Facebook. When followers said they were praying for them, Kristina and Pete asked that they also pray for another family — the one who lost the child and had made the decision to donate the child’s organs.
Pete said that Paige “is very smart” and knows how she got her new liver and kidneys.
“Paige asked us once where the organs would come from,” he said. “She had a very emotional conversation with her mother about it. Paige knows that a child had to die so that she could live.”
Now that she has been discharged from the hospital, Paige and her mother are staying in nearby Natick, Mass., because Paige has to return to the hospital frequently for treatment. Throughout the past few months, Kristina mainly stayed in Boston with Paige, while Pete worked.
Pete said that daughter Chloe has done “pretty well” in the face of her sister’s illness and recent surgery. Paige will remain in the Boston area through December, but Pete said they are hoping to have the whole family reunited at home by Christmas. Afterwards, they expect to travel to Boston once a week for treatment for a short period of time.
Pete said that the family has been uplifted by people throughout central Aroostook who have prayed for them, sent cards and encouraging words. The benefit supper in Mars Hill raised more than $14,000 for the family, and residents of Easton, Paige’s third-grade classmates at Easton Elementary School and others made a special “get well” video that she watched in the hospital.
Although their daughter’s illness has been difficult for the family, Pete said there has been one thing they have always leaned on.
“Faith,” he said Friday. “We have always hung on to that. It is the only thing that has got us through.”
To learn more about organ donation or to register to become a donor, log on to Donate Life New England.