A young boy has been given a new lease of life after Belfast medics performed the first paediatric kidney transplant from a live donor in the UK and Ireland since lockdown began.
Surgeries were put on hold at the Children's Hospital in Belfast when the restrictions were first introduced in March.
This meant the young patient had to endure further months of an exhausting regime of kidney dialysis seven nights a week, making it uncertain he could even start primary school this year.
After carefully studying the risks involved of operating during the pandemic, his medical team asked the family to take a leap of faith and perform the surgery.
The operation followed the success of the adult renal and nephrology service, who have performed around 50 transplants from deceased donors since the start of lockdown.
Dr Karl McKeever is the patient's consultant and clinical director in the Children's Hospital.
He told the Belfast Telegraph it was a proud day for the team after a frightening period when "all bets were off" on when surgeries for children could resume.
He also spoke of the touching moment the young boy celebrated on the ward after his operation.
"Everybody was very frightened about what lay ahead," he said.
"This particular patient was already teed up for a transplant because of high clinical need before the pandemic.
"That had to be postponed and the clock was ticking because other patients can sadly die on dialysis.
"That has been the case in other parts of the world that have been harder hit and haven't been able to start their services."
The team faced a difficult decision between protecting the donor and patient from Covid-19 and the harm of doing nothing.
Work started with Dr Mairead Convery, a consultant paediatric nephrologist, networking with management in the Belfast Trust and other experts across the UK to assess the risk.
After collecting enough data, the team concluded that with the proper safety measures, the risk of Covid-19 to the donor and patient was small.
"It's been a very exciting time amidst all the bad times," said Dr McKeever.
"It's so transforming for the family who have had to take that leap of faith.
"The impact of dialysis and what families have to go through needs to be seen to be believed and is very humbling for us."
He continued: "I always remember when the little boy returned to the ward a few days after his surgery and chanted 'We did it, we did it!'
"It was particularly interesting to see the awareness he had at such a young age about what was going on in society around them.
"He understood why it had been held up, so to see it come off in such a good way with all of the team involved was amazing."
Between two and six kidney transplants are usually performed at the Children's Hospital each year.
"The numbers are low so it wasn't a worry we couldn't catch up, but it was the risk to the patients as the days went by on dialysis waiting for this life-changing surgery," Dr McKeever said.
"So, it's just been super for this wee man and his family.
"After going through so much in recent years, I'd say they're not entering a new chapter as much as a new book."
Dr Convery added she was "absolutely delighted" to be first paediatric centre in the UK and Ireland to perform a living donor transplant during lockdown and thanked staff for their perseverance in giving a child "the most amazing gift".
"Most importantly, we would like to thank our patient, their family and the donor for their courage and cooperation throughout the process."