Laura Criel

At age 23, Laura Criel found herself fighting for her life in a Conroe, Texas hospital. Her parents, Ted and Paula, were told that Laura had a five percent chance of surviving and that they should say goodbye to their daughter. Paula begged her not to give up.

Having been diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis back when she was just 18 months old, Laura grew up with adverse health conditions. She spent her whole childhood in and out of hospitals in repeated surgical attempts to fix and replace bones that were not growing properly. Although substantial doses of arthritis medication kept her chronic pain at a tolerable level, that same pain-relieving medication had been slowly poisoning her liver.

After weeks of a severe stomach illness and multiple emergency room visits, Laura’s family was desperate to save her life. A transfer to Houston Methodist turned out to be their only hope. By the time she arrived at the hospital, Laura’s liver had failed and her kidneys were shutting down. In an unprecedented procedure, her surgeons performed a liver transplant for Laura within hours of her arrival.

Unfortunately, the new organ was not a match and her body rejected it within days. But less than a week later, the perfect liver came along — just in time to save Laura’s life a second time. "I appreciate all of the staff at Houston Methodist so much, and my family does too," said a grateful Laura. She has since recovered, gone back to her job at the YMCA and is raising a healthy baby girl with fiancé Alvaro Gonzalez.