Sunday, November 23, 2008

UK baby receives liver transplant

Tiny Trinity home after life-saving transplant operation

Evening Telegraph

A BABY from Derbyshire has become one of the youngest children in the UK to have a life-saving liver transplant.

Trinity Walters was just six weeks old when she had a nine-hour operation to remove her liver and replace it with a donor organ.

Experts from UK Transplant, the NHS organisation that oversees organ transplants, said they knew of just 12 other babies who had successfully undergone organ transplants in the first few months of life – the youngest being just six days old.

Trinity became ill just weeks after her birth, on August 17, and specialists at the liver unit in Birmingham Children's Hospital diagnosed severe liver failure.

Distraught parents Leonna and David Walters, both 28, were told their daughter's only hope of survival was a liver transplant.

After an agonising 22-day wait, a donor organ became available and Trinity had her transplant on October 10.

After several weeks in intensive care she began to rally, and was finally allowed to return to the family home in Pinxton last Thursday.

Mrs Walters said: "It was the longest 22 days of our lives. She stayed on the specialist liver ward in the hospital and we were at her bedside the whole time. We never went home.

"The doctors said that only a new liver could save her life, so we knew it was our only hope.

"We were told the donor was a child who had died and I can't imagine what the parents of that child must have been going through. It was so brave of them to make the decision to donate their child's liver and save our daughter's life."

Trinity's short life has been dramatic from the start. She was delivered by her father at home because paramedics did not reach them in time.

Mrs Walters said: "I was having contractions but they weren't very regular, so the midwife said to wait a few hours before going to hospital.

"I had a bath, and then all of a sudden I was in agony. David called 999 but there was no way paramedics were going to reach us in time, so the operator told him what to do over the phone.

"He delivered her on the landing at the top of the stairs! By the time the ambulance arrived, it was all over."

At first, Trinity, who weighed 5lbs 6oz at birth, seemed healthy. But when she became increasingly jaundiced and failed to gain weight, she was referred to the Birmingham hospital for tests.

The hospital confirmed it had performed only four transplants on babies as young as her.

Dr Patrick McKiernan, paediatric hepatologist at the hospital, said: "Trinity is a tough kid and has got through so much. There is a shortage of organ donors anyway but particularly for very small children."

Trinity is now recovering at home, taking 28 different medications every day, and will need to take drugs for the rest of her life to prevent her body rejecting the new liver.

Her parents are now urging more people to sign up to the organ donor register.

Mrs Walters said: "It's something very few people think about but it could save a life. Giving blood is also vital – Trinity needed blood transfusions every day while she was waiting for her transplant.

"David has played for Amber Valley Rugby Club for 15 years, and they raised £700 in Trinity's honour by hosting a bonfire night, which they have given to the Children's Liver Disease Foundation.

"They have also been registering to give blood and donate their organs, as have many of our friends. We just hope that others who read Trinity's story will consider it too."

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

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