A brother’s joy after gifts of life heart and liver transplants

A SEVEN-year-old boy has told what one of two life saving transplants for his younger brother meant to him and his family.

Freddie McDonald, aged four, of Ossett, Wakefield, received a liver transplant in June 2015 followed by a new heart valve during more major surgery this March.

Freddie and his older brother Louie star in NHS Blood and Transplant’s ‘Hugs’ campaign video for Organ Donation Week 2017, which runs until this Sunday.

The service is urging potential donors to speak to family members about their wishes after revealing many families are often unsure and decide it is safer to say no.

It means around 460 lifesaving organ transplants are missed each year.

In the video, Freddie and Louie are shown playing together as Louie says: “Freddie used to be very poorly and the doctors said he might need a new liver.”

“Everyone was very sad thought Freddie might not live if he didn’t get one. Then, one day, a very nice person gave their liver to Freddie.

“It was amazing, we were so happy. Now he’s around to give me more hugs than ever.”

Freddie’s mother Emma McDonald spoke of her family’s emotional journey today (Tues Sept 5) after she and husband Phil, 39, dropped Freddie off for his first day at school at Dimplewell Infants in Ossett.

Mrs McDonald, 37, said: “He was very poorly and we didn’t even know if he was going to reach school, but now he is just like every other child - a healthy little boy.

Emma and Phil McDonald pictured in April 2015 with their sons Louie (centre) and Freddie, who was born with Alagille syndrome.

“It was an overwhelming and proud moment for us all because we have made it this far and it is a day that we thought we would never see.

“I managed to hold it together until I got home, when I had a little weep.

“Louie has been a credit to us through it all. He has coped admirably and is another little hero. We are very proud of both of them.”

Freddie was diagnosed with Alagille syndrome - a rare condition that can affect the liver and heart - at just six months old.

Doctors placed him on the liver transplant waiting list in June 2015 after his condition deteriorated.

Relatives were tested as possible live donors, but a deceased donor liver arrived in autumn that year.

His parents rushed him to Leeds General Infirmary for the lifesaving nine-hour operation.

Then Freddie became a double transplant recipient in March when he was given a new heart valve during 16-hours of open heart surgery

Mrs McDonald, said: “The organ donations have without a doubt saved us as a family.

“We knew we were very close to losing him and if we had lost him the whole family would have heartbroken. We would never have got over it.

“Thank you is the most you can say to the donors’ families, but it never seems enough.

“In the moment of their complete grief, two families they were able to do something so brave that has impacted on us so positively.

“I would encourage everyone to sign the Organ Donor Register. People shouldn’t be dying while waiting for transplants.”

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is urging people to sign the Organ Donation Register as part of its Be A Hero campaign, which is backed by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Around 100,000 Yorkshire residents have been inspired to signed the Organ Donor Register since the Be A Hero campaign was launched in July 2015. This year, the campaign is seeking to increase the number of registered organ donors in Yorkshire by 50,000 in just six months.

IT is quick and easy to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Simply visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call the NHS Blood and Transplant 24-hour-a-day donor line on 0300 123 23 23. Letting your family know your organ donation decision will make it much easier for them to support what you want. Anyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register, age and medical conditions are not necessarily a barrier to donation. The YEP would like to hear from any readers who have been inspired by the Be a Hero campaign to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Please e mail: mark.lavery@ypn.co.uk.

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