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SWFL Children’s Charities’ 2022 Child Artist, Ella Palinchak was born happy and healthy with her twin sister. At four months old, Ella was diagnosed with Alagille Syndrome, a complex multisystem rare genetic disease. Alagille Syndrome effects the liver, brain, heart, eyes, face and skeleton. With successful medical interventions, children with Alagille Syndrome can live a full life, but some do not survive. 

Ella’s parents, Kris and JoAnna, traveled out of the area to see many doctors including a neurologist, nephrologist, and more. They became quick advocates and experts because most specialists had yet to hear of the disease

Ella’s failing liver was the first obstacle. The family needed more than just a liver transplant match, they also had to get approval from several specialists confirming that she was stable enough to receive this lifesaving organ donation. While Ella was in a Miami hospital and the Golisano’s Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers for six months waiting for news, both parents took turns staying in the Miami hospital with Ella and staying home with Lacy, Ella’s twin sister. 

Ella was put on the liver transplant list just one day before her first birthday and a year and a half later, they received that important phone call that the Miami hospital had found a match. Ella had a successful liver transplant at the age of two and is expected to live a full life thanks to medicine and regular appointments with the cardiologist, ophthalmologist and transplants specialists.  

“She continues to amaze us with her unwavering, great spirit,” said Joanna. 

The Palinchak’s have much hope for Ella and others suffering with Allagile Syndrome. One day they hope to connect with Ella’s donor family. 

“We are forever grateful of their selfless act during their time of pain,” said JoAnna. 

As SWFL Children’s Charities’ 2022 Child Artist, Ella will create a one-of-a-kind piece of art with former NBC-2 anchor and local artist mentor, Rachel Pierce. The painting will be featured during the 2022 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, where bidders can raise their paddles in support of Ella and her artwork. Bids for the artwork will start at $5,000. Traditionally, the works are then donated back to the hospital, where they are displayed for patients, families, visitors and staff to enjoy.  

Celebrating its 14th year, the 2022 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest signature event, themed “25 Million Reasons to Sip Sip Hooray” will take place on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 when dinner hosts invite guests to enjoy exclusively themed dinners, prepared by the event’s distinguished vintners and local chefs. The Grand Tasting will take place on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, where celebrated local chefs and distinguished vintners come together to showcase culinary creations and delectable wines followed by a spirited Live Auction featuring an array of exquisite wines, luxurious travel packages, exclusive event access and more. Grand Tasting & Live Auction will take place in the gardens at Florida SouthWestern State College.