THE FAMILY of a Malmesbury schoolboy whose life was saved by a liver transplant is marking the anniversary by raising money for other desperately ill children.
Fred Johns had weeks to live when he underwent the operation almost exactly two years ago. Now he is a normal, healthy and active eight-year-old.
The Malmesbury Primary School pupil had lived with the condition since being diagnosed as a 10-week-old baby. But he suffered a dramatic decline in his health around Christmas two years ago.
His worried parents Lisa and Doug took him to Bath Royal United Hospital and almost immediately he was transferred to Kings College Hospital in London. “We were told it was time for him to be assessed for a transplant.”
It was a day they had known would come since they were given the diagnosis. “We were told he would need a transplant, but nobody knew when. It was just a case of waiting, which was awful,” Lisa told the Standard.
When he left hospital three weeks later he was on the transplant list. It meant the family had to stay close to home ready to be rushed to London at a moment’s notice.
But a matter of weeks later he fell ill again, went to the RUH and was again sent to London to be stabilised.
On the night before he was due to be discharged his mum was woken up by a nurse to be told there was a potential donor. It was not a moment too soon. “He had three to four weeks to live,” said Lisa. “At that point we had started looking at living donors.”
Later that afternoon Fred was wheeled down to theatre. He emerged six hours later and went straight into intensive care. Amazingly he was out of hospital in just 15 days and back at home playing with his little brothers Alfie and Harry, now aged six and three.
Before they left the medics showed Lisa a sample from his old liver.”It was so diseased it was green,” she said.
Writing a letter to thank the donor’s family was a struggle, knowing that while their son had been given a chance of life, someone had lost theirs.
All they knew was that it was a girl aged just 13, whose organs had helped eight people. Her liver had been shared between Fred and a baby. Later they discovered the girl’s identity and one day, when their son is old enough, they plan to tell him more about where his new liver came from.
Since his diagnosis the couple have regularly raised money for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation and next week, they will be at a special fundraiser organised by their friend Jen Richardson.
The event on March 15, featuring tales from adventurers who have climbed in the Antarctic, filmed sharks in Polynesia, sailed round the works and flown RAF search and rescue missions, is being staged on the anniversary of Fred’s op.
Tickets for the evening in St Mary’s Hall at 7.30 cost £5 and are available by calling 07745 410614.