A little girl’s life was saved after her mother donated part of her liver when no donor was available.
Patricia Barr was just a few months old when doctors found a tumour on her liver. She became so poorly that her parents decided to have her christened in hospital in case the worst happened.
But on Tuesday the tot will celebrate her first birthday cancer free after mum Sophie realised the only way to save her daughter’s life was to give her part of her own liver.
"Patricia was a happy and healthy baby, until she was around three months old when we noticed her stomach was becoming swollen," says Sophie, 25, who mentioned her concerns to her health visitor.
From there everything moved very quickly. Patricia was referred to Sheffield Children's Hospital where in January this year was diagnosed with a tumour in half of her liver, she was just four months old.
Initially she was treated for five weeks in Sheffield Children’s Hospital where doctors attempted to shrink the tumour with chemotherapy. However in March her parents were told that their baby daughter needed to be transferred to Leeds Children’s Hospital for a full liver transplant.
“Everything happened quite quickly. Patricia’s condition deteriorated rapidly after she was diagnosed with a tumour, so fast that Andrew and I made the decision to have her christened at the hospital,” says Sophie.
“Just hours later, Patricia was rushed to the intensive care unit as all the pressure of the tumour was on her lungs. She couldn’t breathe and had started to turn blue in my arms. She was put on a ventilator, which became her lifeline for a week.”
While Patricia waited for a donor liver to become available at Leeds Children’s Hospital, the days turned into weeks, twice the couple were told that there may be a liver available, however neither transplants could take place.
But then tests revealed that Sophie was a suitable match for Patricia and in March this year donated part of her liver to her daughter.
“I was told I had a one in 200 chance of not making it through the operation but you don't think about that, you just think about how it could help Patricia. I was put under anaesthetic at St James’s Hospital at 6am and then part of my liver was transferred over to Leeds Children’s Hospital to be given to Patricia. Her operation began a couple of hours after mine. I couldn't see her for three days but I think it was hardest on Andrew as he had us both in surgery at the same time.
“Afterwards, all I wanted was to be reunited with her and Andrew.”
Talking during Organ Donation Week the couple say their ordeal was made easier thanks to the Sick Children’s Trust as they were able to stay close to Patricia first at the charity’s Magnolia House, Sheffield and then at Eckersley House, Leeds.
"Andrew and I are both so grateful to The Sick Children’s Trust and its ‘Homes from Home’. In total we stayed for around five weeks and it was a huge weight off our minds to know that we had somewhere to go back to, especially when I was recovering from my operation."
The family now plan to have a blessing on Sunday for all their extended family who weren't allowed to Patricia's hospital Christening.
"It will be like an early birthday party for her."