Friday, October 21, 2011

FIFTEEN years ago, Bernice Allan was a baby at death's door.

I never cease to be amazed at the wonders of organ donation and how wonderful the gift of a new life can be. We are so grateful and thankful to the donors and donor families who make it all possible. Sign up today!

Sweetest sixteenth - miracle girl Bernice Allan full of life

Full of life ... Bernice Allan, now 16
Pic: Tracee Lea Source: The Daily Telegraph

At death's door ... baby Bernice Allan, 9 months
Source: The Daily Telegraph

By Evelyn Yamine The Daily Telegraph (Australia)

At just nine months old, after being born with a damaged liver, her parents Kathleen and Darren were told Bernice had only 24 hours to live.

Then came the miracle.

The parents of a young baby who died suddenly donated a liver which matched Bernice and she was given a transplant, allowing her to live a life that seemed over just a day before.

This year is particularly special for Bernice. She celebrated her sweet 16th birthday in May and her best friend Steven McGinley, 14, shares another special "birthday" with her - her liver transplant day on February 14 each year. She also got her learner's licence and is now the family's designated driver, her mother joked, as she is not allowed to drink alcohol with her condition.

Bernice, who spent the first five years of her life in hospital, has had more than 70 operations.

She was a patient at what used to be named the New Children's Hospital at Westmead - now the Children's Hospital at Westmead - in 1996 when the liver became available and she had the life-changing operation at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Bernice suffers from deafness, the eye condition astigmatism and severe sleep apnea - all believed to be linked to her condition - but she doesn't let that stop her. In her home town of Moonta Bay, in South Australia, she goes to school, plays netball and has participated in four national Transplant Games, a World Transplant Games and has won numerous medals.

Transplant Australia CEO Chris Thomas said Bernice was just one of many recipients of organ transplants who could live a full life thanks to the generosity of organ donors.

"She is a very wonderful living proof of the benefits of organ and tissue donation and the importance of families having a discussion about becoming organ donors," Mr Thomas said.

But Mr Thomas said although five million people had either signed up on an organ register or ticked the box on licence registration forms, families should discuss the issue so the wishes of organ donors were carried out.

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