Many of you will have seen Katie Haggitt and Simon Wharton’s names under the Diocesan Prayers. The Wharton and Haggitt families wish to thank the Diocese for inclucing Simon and baby Katie in their prayers.  Katie is Anne Wharton’s (formally from the Otago Peninsula Parish) 6 month old granddaughter.  The families have asked that the following be shared with you all.

On 16th November, 2015, my granddaughter Katie was born a very sick baby.  The main problem was a condition called biliary atresia in which bile duct damage restricts the flow of bile out of the liver.  A six hour operation failed to resolve the problem and the only solution was a liver transplant.  A few weeks before Easter Katie’s liver function deteriorated rapidly and she was prepared for transplant urgently.

Weeks went by.  Katie remained in Starship Children’s Hospital but no deceased donor liver became available for her despite the fact that at her age a blood-type match was not necessary.  The liver could come from anyone aged 18 to 60 but the “plumbing” (blood vessels) had to be in the right position for it to be viable.  Not wanting to chance Katie’s fragile state any longer, my son Simon offered a piece of his liver as a living donor for his niece.  Fortunately Simon’s liver was suitable and the transplant took place on 13th April, 2016.

I am writing this exactly one month later and Katie is doing amazingly well.  There is every reason to believe that she will lead a relatively normal, productive life.  Simon’s recovery is much slower but his liver should have regenerated to its original size within two months of the transplant.

Had a deceased donor liver been available for Katie, it would probably have come from someone who had sustained an irreversible, fatal brain injury, such as from a road accident or brain haemorrhage.  Only hospital deaths can be considered for organ donation and only 1% of hospital deaths occur in circumstances that make organ donation possible.  Some of us will have ticked the “donor” box on our driver licence form but despite this, at the time of our death, the decision to donate our organs will lie with our family.

New Zealand has relatively low rates of deceased organ donation compared to other developed countries so please start the conversation with your family, loved ones and friends about whether you, and/or they, wish to be an organ donor.  It is important to know that you can specify the organs and tissues that you wish to donate.  An adult deceased donor liver can benefit two recipients – it can be split so that one larger section can be transplanted into an adult and the smaller segment given to a child – like Katie.

Ann Wharton
More information can be obtained from:
Organ Donation New Zealand

Reference Code: BQBK
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