Thursday, January 07, 2010

'Give our little girl the gift of life in 2010'

Paris Cowens with her parents James Jones and Tammy Cowens at their home in Lidget Green

By Claire Lomax The Telegraph & Argus

The family of a little girl who needs a new liver are calling on the people of Bradford to make joining the organ donor register their new year resolution.

Paris Cowens, who celebrated her first birthday on November 25, is one of 10,000 people in the UK who need an organ transplant.

While online and phone sign-ups to the organ donor register quadrupled in November 2009, compared to the same month in 2008, more must be done, with three people dying every day while they wait for an organ to become available.

Little Paris has a condition called biliary atresia which only affects about 50 babies born in England and Wales each year. It means the bile duct to her liver is blocked causing bile to build up in the liver, which poisons it.

As a result, Paris, who is under the care of the paediatric liver team at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, is jaundiced, has a swollen stomach and is frequently admitted to hospital because of complications caused by the disease.

She was diagnosed shortly after birth at Bradford Royal Infirmary and underwent an operation in a bid to unblock the ducts. But the operation was unsuccessful and complications set in. She was placed on the transplant list in October and is now waiting for a new liver to become available to save her life.

A pager goes everywhere with whoever is caring for Paris, who lives in Hollingwood Avenue, Lidget Green, with her grandmother Sandra Jones and her partner Paul Rushworth and her parents Tammy Cowens and James Jones.

Mrs Jones said: “It is just a waiting game really. Even if a liver comes up it all depends on who is also waiting and who it is most suitable for.”

The family have all joined the organ donor register and although he is not a blood relation Mr Rushworth offered to undergo tests earlier this year to see if he could become a living donor for Paris.

Doctors have said Paris was too little for this option but Mrs Jones added: “Paris has put some weight on so we are hoping we can try to get something done soon.

“In the meantime we would call on everyone to consider putting their name on the organ donor register.”

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Rather than making what can often be an unachievable and unfulfilling resolution, this year we’re calling on everyone to do something that could make all the difference in the world and save someone’s life.

“If we are to help the 10,000 patients in need of a transplant and prevent three people needlessly dying every day due to a lack of organs, we need many more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and discuss their decision with the people closest to them.”

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network. NEW for Ontario: recycleMe.org - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register

In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant.