Little Buffalo boy with 24 hours to live – gets life saving organ from his aunt

January 31, 2017

Written By

Mary Friona Celani

UPDATE: Aiden’s white blood cell count is low – he’s back in for blood work. The family is asking for prayers. 


It’s hard to imagine your child so sick, he’s given 24 hours to live. That is what happened to Janel Little from Buffalo and her baby boy, Aiden.

It was a few months ago, on Thanksgiving – sweet little 18-month-old Aiden became very sick and was taken to Women & Children’s Hospital. Doctors found his liver was failing.  Aiden and his mother were airlifted to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. The baby boy was put on life support and was added to a donor list. Doctors told Janel that her baby had mere hours to live.

But, miracles happen. And did that day. Aiden’s aunt, Josephine Little – his mom’s sister – proved to be a match. She flew from Buffalo to New York City and both were prepped for surgery. Josephine tells me it wasn’t an option – at all, “I saw how fast he was deteriorating. I knew it was a piece of my liver or he wasn’t going to make it.” Doctors gave little Aiden a piece of Josephine’s liver. The livers of both the donor and recipient grow back to full size approximately three months after the surgery. The operation lasted about eight hours. Both Josephine and Aiden did very well.

Josephine was in the hospital for five days, Aiden spent several weeks there. Both are recovering.

Janel is eternally grateful for such an amazing gift from her younger sister, “She basically saved my son’s life. I owe her my life for what she did for my son. She is his Godmother and now the person who saved his life. I am beyond grateful.”

Little Aiden still travels to New York once a month to be checked out. He will continue to do so for the next year. As you can imagine, this is a huge financial burden, and relatives have started a Go Fund Me page to help the family with medical and travelling costs.

It’s been a surreal and scary few months. For Josephine, who is still recovering, she’d do it all again- no doubt, “Everyone is calling me a hero and an angel, but I didn’t do it to get recognition or praise for it. I did it because I knew he would die if I didn’t.”

A nephew and aunt – with a special and amazing bond that nobody can ever take away.


*Currently 17,000 adults and children are waiting for donated livers to become available. For more information on organ and tissue donation, contact Unyts.







About Me

Welcome to Totally Buffalo! My name is Mary Friona-Celani and I am the creator of this site! After spending 20 years in the Buffalo media, I moved on to focus on my beautiful family. Now, the time has come for a new project. I was ready for something new. Something mine.
I am born and raised in WNY and my pride runs deep. My husband, Scott and I are very happy to be raising our four daughters here.






  1. Avatar

    Thank you so much for the beautiful article. I am josephines Aunt, and Aidens great aunt, and our family has truely gone thru so much since this all started happening. Both Aiden and Joey are doing great, though i dont get to see Aiden as i would love to, have to keep him isolated for some time, as to not catch any bugs from us. This has made our family even closer then we ever had been, and makes you realize just how truely fragile life is…..Hopefully everyone who reads your article hugs their family even tighter. And get your flu shot, since this was the virus that killed his liver….Again, thank you soooo much.

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    I am Aiden’s grandmother and Josephine’s mother! I thank you for writing their story! It was a very scary experience which turned out to be an amazing experience! This has shown me the humanitarian side of people and it also makes you realize how life can be so short! Thank God Josephine was a match because Aiden would not be here with us now if she wasn’t! That’s how fast this all went, it was crazy! Nobody had time to really process this and I guess you can say we all were just going through the motions! It was a very emotional time for us all. I will have to say too that my daughter Janel really stepped up being the sole caretaker of Aiden in NYC for the 2 months they were there! She had to learn how to give him his meds and shots, which by the way were 11 meds at the time and that’s a lot to have to take in while she was going through her own emotional roller coaster ride! Kudos to my Janel for being the great mom she is! I just want people to continue to pray for Aiden, its still a long road to recovery for him! Any donations would be greatly appreciated for their monthly visits to NYC for the next year! Thank you!

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    Thank you so much for the story it was beautiful thsnk you

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    Reading this had me in tears. I don’t know Aiden or Janel personally but my heart goes out to them. I have been following this story through my friend Jennifer Bly whom is related to him. My prayers go out to you all. May Josephine and Aiden have a miraculous recovery and may God continue to watch over them. Josephine whether you like hearing it or not yes you are a hero, an Angel for doing the right thing. Bless your heart. I admire your strength and what you have done to save this precious baby. This story was a tear jerker? but I’m happy that you are both here to tell it. God bless you.

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    Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. We wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. Thank you

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    This is truly a beautifully written story!! I’ve been friends with Mary Little and her family for a long time. I remember Aidan’s mom, Janel since she was a little girl!!
    I was devastated when I first heard what happened. I’m so thankful Josephine was a donor and that both are recovering! And yes she is an angel, Aiden’s angel! Wait until he grows up and understands what his aunt did for him.
    With all the gloom that’s going on in this world today, it warms my heart to hear this happy story!!!
    I’ve never met Aiden although his older sister was at my grand daughter’s birthday party since they are the same age. I hope to meet Aiden soon!!

  7. Avatar

    As said above, thank you for the beautiful story, continue to write for us and God Bless the family of Aiden and Josephine. Life will never be the same!

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