A selfless mother whose daughter was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour at just three-and-a-half months old, donated part of her own liver to save her little girl’s life.
Sophie Barr, 25, didn’t think twice about putting herself forward for the transplant when no donor was available, despite a one-in-200 chance of not making it through the operation.
Her daughter Patricia is now ‘loving life’ and celebrated her first birthday on Tuesday, totally cancer-free.
The youngster was just a few months old when doctors found a tumour on her liver before her condition began to rapidly deteriorate.
She became so poorly her parents took the heartbreaking decision to have her christened in hospital in case she didn’t pull through.
Medics told Patricia’s parents the best course of action to prevent the cancer returning would be a liver transplant and she was put on the UK emergency donor list.
After an agonising wait, a suitable liver was found but medics cancelled the operation while Patricia was already in theatre because the organ turned out to be damaged.
Sophie, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, had already put herself forward to be a donor and amazingly tests revealed she was a perfect match for her only child.
She quickly agreed to provide 20% of her liver – a procedure which put her own life at risk.
Days later she underwent the six-hour operation in March this year to help save her daughter who was seven months old at the time.
Doting mum Sophie said: ‘You don’t think about the risk to yourself, you just think that you could save your child’s life.
‘I would have tried everything in my power to make her better. I didn’t even think twice about it. I don’t think it sunk in what I’d actually done until after the surgery.
‘I always had it in my head that another liver would become available. In my mind, I just took away the misery of Patricia’s having to wait even longer.
‘She is a totally different child since she had the transplant. I would do it again.’
Patricia was a happy and healthy baby until around three months old when her parents Sophie and Andrew, 38, a technical baker, noticed her stomach was becoming swollen.
Tests revealed Patricia had a tumour in half of her liver.
She was admitted to hospital at the beginning of January this year and began chemotherapy later that month to shrink the tumour but her condition deteriorated rapidly.
Just hours after her emotional christening, Patricia started to turn blue in her mother’s arms and she was put on a ventilator to help her breathe after being rushed to the intensive care unit.
She stayed in Sheffield Children’s Hospital for five weeks but the family were then told she needed a liver transplant.
Patricia was put on an emergency donor list at Leeds Children’s Hospital at the beginning of March to try to find a liver donor as soon as possible.
As the days turned into weeks, it became apparent there was no suitable liver for Patricia.
Sophie had already asked if she could donate part of her liver and was going through the necessary tests.
Sophie was told she was a match for Patricia and the living donation could go ahead.
‘I was warned about the risks as it is major surgery, but you just don’t think about that, you just think that if it can help your child then you will do anything,’ said Sophie.
‘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.’
Patricia had her last round of chemotherapy on the 26th April and a few months later, the family were given the amazing news she no longer had cancerous cells and will need no further treatment.
‘We saw a difference in Patricia a week after her transplant, she was a different baby,’ added Sophie.
‘Going forward now our life isn’t run by hospital appointments and treatment, our goal is to get her crawling and walking with the help of physiotherapy.
‘Our hope is she can go on now and live a normal happy healthy life.’
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