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What Would You Do To Save Your Child's Life?

02/09/2015 12:14 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Surgeon by emergency sign

"I would do anything for my child"?

Most of us say it. And most of us mean it. But do you ever imagine those words to literally mean saving your child's life by risking your own? Would the answer still be "yes" if the doctor said you could die on the operating table?

My son Charlie was born on the December 15, 2013 -- a healthy baby boy with 10 fingers and 10 toes weighing in at 3.5kg. Happiest day of my life!

But that happiness was short lived. Not long after Charlie's birth he was diagnosed with a rare liver disease called Biliary Atresia -- a life-threatening disease caused by blocked bile ducts that causes toxins and waste to build up and damage the liver beyond repair.

Within a matter of days I went from being a mum of a baby suffering from 'colic' to being confronted with talks of corrective surgery and an inevitable liver transplant.

Doctors hoped that they could treat the symptoms at least until he was one, so that he could receive all the vaccinations before transplant. So Charlie was officially registered on the liver transplant waiting list on December 17, 2014, a date my husband and I awaited with as much anticipation as when we found out I was pregnant.

We had hopes of a quick resolution to Charlie's pain, but we had to wait, in fact we waited on the transplant list for a seemingly endless six months. Our lives were set around Charlie's feeding times, via the Nasal Gastric tube. His strict medical regime, constant blood tests, Albumin infusions and doctors' visits. We feared that Charlie could catch a cold from another baby, and if he developed fever we would be taken of the waiting list. We became more isolated. Going on holidays was not an option as we could get the call "any minute" and we had to be close to the hospital just in case.

Life revolved around the phone and making sure every "private number" was answered.

On Monday, May 4, 2015, the unthinkable happened! As I was putting Charlie to bed he just doubled over and started projectile vomiting fresh blood, a result of liver disease complications. I will never be able to erase that image from my mind.

We rushed to hospital and the next few weeks that followed still replay in my mind in slow motion. The worry and shock on the doctors' faces as they told me that my Charlie was in an induced coma, that they only just managed to stop the bleeding, that they can not guarantee they'll be able to do it next time.

Charlie spent two weeks on top of the Australia and New Zealand waiting list for the first-available liver. He had three bleeds, his last so severe that they had to transfuse him with 60 percent of his blood. But, most importantly, we never got THE call.

Our only option to save Charlie was a living donor transplant and I was a match. Our transplant was booked for May 26. I had a million thoughts running through my mind as I kissed Charlie goodbye on the evening of the 25th. Will I ever see him again? Will my liver come in time? Does he know how much I love him?

My story has a happy ending. My liver was a good fit and Charlie's fast post-transplant recovery was surprising even to his doctors.

But we were extremely lucky.

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I am not brave, I am simply a mum who, in a very unfortunate situation, had a little bit of luck on her side.

I heard many parents say "I would do the same for my child". But what if you could not? What if, despite your best intentions, you were not a match? If you or your loved one were in ICU with only days to live, would you take an organ to save their life or yours? If your answer is yes then you should register. You may not be as lucky as me and be able to donate yours.

Believe me when I tell you that none of us are shielded by that invisible cone. It could happen to you like it happened to me.

So please sign up with Donate Life and let your family know your wishes.

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