Then on the first day of the Christmas holidays last year the family’s lives were changed forever.
“It was the first day of the school Christmas holidays. Alfie woke up and was playing with his older brother Todd. He had a headache but I put that down to a winter bug,” says mum Cathy.
“Later that afternoon he became more unwell and we were all sure there must be a bug going round.”
But at 7pm that evening Alfie curled up on his dad’s knee and closed his eyes. He never opened them again.
Distraught the family called an ambulance fearing Alfie had suffered some sort of seizure.
“We didn’t know what was going on,” says Cathy, catering assistant from Bradford.
Aflie was initially taken to Bradford Ryal Infirmary before being transferred to Leeds General Infirmary for emergency neurological surgery.
“He had an urgent brain scan and we were told he had suffered a massive brain haemorrhage. They took Alfie into emergency surgery, but after the operation doctors explained that his prognosis wasn’t good,” says Cathy who is married to Nigel.
“The consultants carried out tests to assess Alfie’s brain function and that was when we were told there was nothing more that could be done. The test showed that he was brain dead. We just couldn’t believe it.
“The organ donation nurses came and asked if we had thought about organ donation . We hadn’t. I had carried a donor card for myself but the boys were only nine and 11. It just hadn’t crossed my mind before because you never think that sort of thing will happen to your children.
“But organ donation was the only thing that made any sense out of all of this. We were told that all of his other vital organs were working well and could be transplanted to save others.”
Alfie, donated his heart, lungs, kidney’s and liver which went on to save or improve the lives of five people.
“Organ donation is the only thing that makes any sense in those moments,” continues Cathy. “Alfie’s legacy can live on and we can take some comfort knowing that he has stopped other families going through that pain.”
Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with Alfie’s family. We are immensely grateful that at such a tragic time they thought of others and are raising awareness of organ donation.
“Losing a child is a terrible tragedy but we know that families find real comfort in being able to consider organ donation.
There are currently 6,500 people - including 150 children - living a life in limbo, waiting for a call that will change their lives. There are 452 people in Yorkshire on the transplant waiting list.
A shortage of donors means many will die before they get the transplant they need.
In the last five years 173 people in the region have died waiting for a transplant.
While most people say they support organ donation, only around a third of people in the UK have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register.
In Yorkshire 1.79 million people have registered their decision to be an organ donor.
“It’s a terrible shame that so many people who want to save lives through organ donation have not taken the next, simple step to register that decision. We all have busy lives, yet most of us would admit that we still find ourselves whiling time away and delaying doing important things. Signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register is one thing we know people often just haven’t got around to doing. This Christmas, we are asking everyone who supports organ donation to take just a few minutes of their online time to show that support by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register.”
There is no age limit to joining the register - and everyone is encouraged to have a conversation with their family about organ donation.
There is a particular need for more black and Asian organ donors. People from black and Asian communities have a higher incidence of conditions such as diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis, making them more likely to need a transplant, yet people from these communities are less likely to agree to organ donation. While some may be able to receive an organ from a white donor, for many others the best, or only, match would be from someone from the same ethnic background.
“Organ donation saves and transforms lives. Thanks to people donating after their deaths over the last year 264 people living in Yorkshire had a potentially life-changing transplant. In the last five years 1,398 people in the region have had a life-changing transplant.”
As for the Barraclough’s they are preapring for a second Christmas without Alfie.
But they take comfort from the knowledge that thanks to their little boy five people’s lives have been saved.
“Alfie is a true hero and deserves all the recognition he can get ,” says Cathy.
“ Losing him made no sense but donating his organs did.
“He was such a perfect handsome boy and he loved helping others. “
For more information visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk #timetosign #organdonation