Most people only celebrate one birthday every year – the day where friends and family make a big deal of someone they are glad to have in their lives.
Hannah Mackereth likes to celebrate twice. Not for the presents or for the attention but for the day where she was give a second chance at life.
At just seven-months-old she underwent an eleventh hour transplant, an operation that her young life depended upon.
Hannah was diagnosed with biliary atresia when she was four-months-old. This is a rare childhood condition in which babies are born with blockages in their bile ducts.
The condition leads to a build-up of bile, causing scarring of the liver and eventually liver failure. It is the most common reason why a child would need a transplant.
Sometimes, if the liver is still young and hasn’t been damaged, the condition can be treated through an operation called a Kasai Portoenterostomy.
Under a blue light, baby Hannah was taken to the liver unit at Birmingham’s children’s hospital to undergo this procedure. Sadly, it was unsuccessful.
It left Hannah with only one possible means of rescue. A transplant.
Waiting for a transplant is a tense time for anyone, especially for Hannah’s parents Jackie and Paul. They weren’t sure if their daughter would live to see her first birthday.
As fortune would have it, a donor was found in just seven days. And it was a donation from a teenager.
“I think waiting was probably the worst times of my parents life,” Hannah said.
“I got the transplant when I was seven-months-old and was out of hospital two weeks later. I made an amazing recovery.
“I was one of the first babies to ever get a cut down liver from a teenager so my liver has grown with me. It is the only organ that can regenerate.
“Now all I have to do is take two tablets a day to keep it healthy and it lets me lead a completely normal life. I have been so lucky and have never had to go back for anything.”
Organ recipients speak from the heart and thank donors and their families
On her tenth birthday, Hannah and her family threw a big party to celebrate the precious years her liver transplant had provided and to raise money for the liver unit in that had made it all possible.
After celebrating her 20th ‘transplant birthday’ on February 5, the Mackereth’s are once again putting on a party to raise awareness about the importance of being an organ donor.
There are more than two million people living in Scotland who have signed the NHS Organ Donor Register. This is around 41% of the population and the highest proportion in the UK.
One donor can save up to seven lives. The From the Heart campaign estimates the average wait for a kidney transplant is 1,168 days. Meanwhile, those waiting for a liver can expect to wait around 142 days and the wait is around 253 days for a new heart.
Those who are in need of a lung transplant can expect to wait, on average, 412 days.
Hannah, from Glasgow, said: “It was always explained to me that I had an organ transplant and that it had saved my life.
“That’s why it is important for us to try and raise some money for the liver unit in Birmingham where I had my transplant because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today.
“I just think it is important to give a little bit back and hopefully help other kids going through a similar situation because I was able to grow up being able to take part in everything.”
Hannah is currently studying Physiology at Glasgow University and is hopeful that she can one day study medicine and specialise in Paediatrics.
“I just love life,” she said.
“Reaching 20 years post-transplant is such a momentous occasion.
“I just really wanted to do my bit to help get people signed up to the register because I don’t think a thank you would be enough for the people who made that decision to save my life.”
To find out more about organ donation, visit Organ Donation Scotland’s website or text LIFE to 61611.
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