Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland girl (4) who got liver from dad off to Transplant Games

By Brett Campbell

A Co Down tot who got a new liver when she was just seven months old is preparing to compete in the British Transplant Games next week.

Lucyellen Johnston (4) was diagnosed with Biliary atresia in January 2014 at just one month old.

Her parents Marianne Johnston (43) and Edward Smith (45) were left distraught when her health deteriorated, leaving her fighting for her life just six-months later.

But thanks to her dad's decision to become a live donor she survived, and will join more than 1,000 transplant athletes in Birmingham to compete in ball throwing, a 25m track race, long jump, obstacle racing and beanbag archery.

"She is so excited, this is such a great opportunity for her to meet other people who have been through the same thing and for her to feel normal," her proud mum said.

"She's doing fantastic even though she still requires regular blood tests, is on lifelong medication and is required to go straight to hospital if exposed to chickenpox."

Little Lucyellen had surgery at just five weeks old to repair bile ducts blocked as a result of her rare liver disease, but the operation was unsuccessful.

In June 2014 her mum had become increasingly concerned when the jaundice she had experienced since birth failed to go away.

"I phoned the doctor one day after her wee nose started to bleed and she was rushed to the Royal before being taken by Air Ambulance to a hospital in Birmingham," Marianne explained.

It was then that doctors decided that she required an urgent liver transplant.

Once Lucyellen's condition stabilised, she was placed on the organ transplant register.

At the same time her dad began tests to establish whether he would be a suitable live donor.

"When he found he was a match he didn't hesitate and gave her two ninths of his liver," Marianne added.

"It was a huge gamble for both of them, but Edward has never looked back, and neither have I."

Belfast Telegraph

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