Unflinching Freddie back to his best after transplant as Yorkshire organ donation campaign grows

Chronic liver disease left little Freddie McDonald severely jaundiced, covered in an itchy rash, tube fed and in need of 13 drugs a day.

The three-year-old, from Ossett, has been battling ill health since he was diagnosed with Alagille syndrome, which affects the liver and heart, at the age of six months.

And after his condition nose dived, doctors placed him on the liver transplant waiting list in June. Relatives were then tested as possible live donors before a deceased donor liver arrived last autumn.

His parents Emma, 36, and Phil, 38, rushed him to Leeds General Infirmary for the lifesaving nine-hour operation.

Emma, a beauty salon manager, said: “As a family we were sinking and I feel we were sinking fast and the impact of organ donation saved us all.”

In March Freddie went under the knife again – this time for open heart surgery. Months on and the brave toddler is back on his feet.

Despite his ever-improving health, the sacrifice of the family who agreed to donate a loved ones’ organs to save him is never far from Freddie’s parents’ minds.

Emma said: “In those darkest moments they have done something amazing. It’s the highest level of altruism anybody can show.”

Freddie starts preschool in September and life back on track but, after raising £65,000 for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, his family is now supporting the Be A Hero campaign to urge people to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Emma added: “If you’d accept a donation then you really should be on the organ donor register. You realise how desperate you are when you are on that register.”

Freddie McDonald, three, pictured at home in Ossett. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Be A Hero and sign the register

Around 42,000 Yorkshire residents signed the register within the first five months of the Yorkshire Post Newspapers-backed Be A Hero campaign.

The campaign, organised by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, launched after it emerged that just 29 Leeds families donated organs in 2014 as around 800 people in the county awaited crucial transplants.

Currently only one in three people in Yorkshire are on the organ donor register, which allows you to state your wish to donate your organs to others after death and takes just minutes to join online or over the phone.

In those darkest moments they have done something amazing.

Emma McDonald, mum of Freddie McDonald.

To sign the register visit leedsth.nhs.uk/be-a-hero or call 0300 1232323 quoting Yorkshire’s Be A Hero.

Emma and Phil McDonald with their son Freddie before his liver transplant last year.

Freddie McDonald, three, pictured with his mum Emma at home in Ossett. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Freddie McDonald, three, pictured in hospital with his brother Louie, six, (left) after his liver transplant.

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