Rockford teen with liver failure makes the most of her time

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ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- After receiving a diagnosis that would change a person's life forever, one local high schooler is making the most of her last days. Harlem high school senior, Izabella Sotelo, considers the time she has left to be heaven on earth.

"December 6 I got the news, I'll never forget that date,” said Sotelo’s mother Tammie Cogdill. "I was devastated, devastated, I still am. Hard to believe, to grasp."

That was the day Cogdill found out her daughter Izabella was diagnosed with stage three liver failure. Izabella is on hospice care and wants everyone to know her calling is just sooner than others

"You really never know what time you're going and I think people take that for granted," said Sotelo.

But even in the midst of what many would consider the darkest time of their lives, she’s still finding joy in her situation and laughing.

"Izzy's laughter just makes you beam,” said Mercyhealth hospice director Dacia Hart, “hearing the family banter back and forth it’s fun."

Hart says hospice isn’t just about comfort, but it's just as much about living.

"We look at their whole being, mind, body, and just them over all. We just want her to be happy."

Sotelo has been able to check off items on her bucket list slowly but surely, getting a tattoo she says reminds her that everything happens for a reason. But the two biggest items she gets to check off that list are fast approaching.

Graduating high school and attending prom.

When her physicians told her she may not make it to her graduation this spring, administrators and teachers at Harlem high school decided to throw her, her very own graduation ceremony; Sotelo had to drop out of school when it became evident that she was too ill to continue.

Sotelo’s graduation ceremony will be on February 8, 2019 at Harlem high school.

As for prom, thanks to teachers, Mercyhealth home hospice and several community partners, Sotelo is also going to have her own prom. Mercyhealth even bought her a dress for the special occasion.

"Us as Mercyhealth at home we wanted to do something really special for her because you know this is like a huge moment in her life,” said Hart. “We wanted to help her have a nice prom and graduation so she can be a part of it."

And Sotelo says she loves the dress she got to pick.

“It’s black with roses on it, and poofy,” says Sotelo.