“Someday we hope to meet Cayde’s donor family,” said Patricia. “We want to share Caydence with them. Each breath she takes is a tribute to an amazing person and family, who gave of themselves in a moment and in doing so gave Cayde a second chance at life.”
Caydence or “Cayde” faced a difficult diagnosis starting at just 8 months old. She had pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary vein stenosis, which meant a young childhood with an abundance of caution. She was discouraged from running or playing too hard out of fear that the excitement could take too big of a toll on her fragile body.
In order to live a healthy life, doctors told Cayde’s family that she would need a double lung transplant, a rare transplant due to the fact that only child donors can donate lungs to young children. But Cayde persevered through the limiting illness with a smile on her face, and she and her family waited and hoped that a transplant would become available. They waited for more than four years, one year of which was spent in the Ronald McDonald House in Houston, TX, thousands of miles away from their own home in Wyoming. (There is a pediatric lung transplant program in that area.)
At the age of 6, after living with her condition for most of her young life, Cayde’s family got word that lungs were ready for her. She received her transplant in 2013.
“Since that day, her new life began,” said Patricia Schutte, Cayde’s grandmother. “The one thing she wanted the most was to be able to run and run and no one tell her to slow down. Every day since, she has not slowed down. Her life is a brand new adventure, a new chapter to be lived to the fullest.”
Cayde and her family are now dedicated advocates for the cause of donation, participating in awareness-raising activities throughout the Western and Rocky Mountain regions. In the summer of 2014, just 14 months after her transplant, Cayde participated in the Transplant Games of America and earned the gold medal in bowling.
Cayde also shows wisdom and kindness beyond her years by enthusiastically speaking with other children who are on the transplant waiting list, offering words of encouragement. She also dutifully cares for her three “daughters” – American Girl dolls – named Alyssa, Elli and Bethany in remembrance of children she met along her transplant journey who were not so fortunate, and died waiting.
In 2014, Cayde’s family learned what it meant to be on the other side of the transplant experience, when Cayde’s grandmother Nancy passed away and was able to donate her eyes to a patient in need. Cayde reports that she is very proud of her “Grandma ‘Ancy.”
Because her hero said Yes, Cayde enjoyed an additional 5 years with her family and friends, making amazing memories every day. Cayde passed away in August 2018. Her last gift, made possible by her and her family’s decision, was to become a donor. Cayde was able to donate her corneas; hoping another could see the beauty in the world through her eyes.