Colleen was born on March 12, 1993. At four months old, she was diagnosed with
biliary atresia (BA), to this day, the most serious liver disease of infancy
and childhood. Colleen had a liver
transplant at 7 months old, and at 22 months old, underwent 6 months of
chemotherapy for Burkitts Lymphoma - at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
From 3 years old through grade school at Grace Episcopal Day
School in Kensington, Colleen had a stretch of good health, but throughout middle school and
high school, she battled infections and other liver complications – enough to
be put on the liver transplant list a few years ago. Despite her health problems, Colleen enjoyed
her high school years, which included playing field hockey and spending time
with her brother and her friends.
She graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda,
and in the fall of 2011, went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where
her doctors coordinated closely with her doctors at Hopkins, ensuring she had
continuous medical care whether at home or in Ann Arbor.
Colleen enjoyed her freshman year at Michigan, going to
football games and participating in the Best Buddies program. She majored in Psychology and planned to
become an occupational therapist working with children with physical and
Unfortunately her health declined during the fall of her
sophomore year as she battled continual infections and multiple hospitalizations. After spending a month in intensive care
awaiting another liver transplant, Colleen passed away on Monday, March 4, 2013
– a week shy of her 20th birthday.
Colleen was determined not to let her illness define
her. She was an inspiration to all who
knew her as she courageously handled recurrent health issues due to chronic
liver disease. Her medical records at
Johns Hopkins over 19 years noted over 190 medical entries, including 15
operations and 41 hospital admissions.
Many admired her strength and resilience, knowing all that
she went through as an infant and toddler – the liver transplant, lymphoma,
chemotherapy, blood transfusions, and hospitalizations. Some didn’t know her personally but were impacted
by her story, chronicled through Red Cross blood drive posters.
As a tribute to Colleen and to aid in the effort to discover
the cause of biliary atresia, the liver disease she was born with, Colleen’s
family has organized an annual charity event: Colleen’s BA 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk.
♥ The Colleen Mitchel Memorial Fund, a component
of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, was established to
support biliary atresia research at the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Liver Center and to raise awareness of the need for organ donors.
The Colleen Mitchel Memorial Fund is a component fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (CFNCR). CFNCR is recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service, federal tax identification number 23-7343119. All contributions to the Colleen Mitchel Memorial Fund are eligible for tax deductibility.
Please go to the Donate page to make a contribution. Thank you for your support.