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Organ donor saves life of Canterbury girl Lilah Hopewell

By Gerry Warren

Parents of a four-year-old girl in desperate need of a life-saving liver transplant saw their wish come true just hours after she was put on the list for suitable donors.

Little Lilah Hopewell was waiting for just four and a half hours before a match was found and she was rushed into surgery.

And it means this Christmas was one the family could barely dream they would ever see.

Lilah Hopewell after her liver transplant
Lilah Hopewell after her liver transplant

“To be honest, I didn’t think she would have been with us this Christmas,” her mum, Daisy Taylor, 21, told the Kentish Gazette.

“And instead of celebrating, we would be grieving. We would have never seen her grow up and go to school. It’s almost too hard to think about.”

It is hard to imagine when watching lively Lilah play with her toys of just how ill she was.

Before the transplant, mum Daisy and dad Lewis Hopewell, 23, both of whom work at McDonald’s, had been told her chances of survival were slim.

Lilah had been poorly since birth with numerous hospital stays and had to have a kidney removed.

Doctors eventually diagnosed her with Alagille syndrome which caused her liver failure.

Lilah playing with her toys
Lilah playing with her toys

It is a genetic disorder that can affect the liver, heart and other parts of the body.

One of the major features of the condition is liver damage caused by abnormalities in the bile ducts.

Daisy, of March Grove, Canterbury, said: “We were told quite early on that she would probably need a liver transplant which came as a hell of a shock to us because we didn’t realise quite how unwell she was.”

But just hours after Lilah was put on the transplant list in March, the call came in while the family were out shopping that a donor liver had been found and they had to rush to London.

Daisy said: “We have been through hell but were just incredibly lucky for it to happen so quickly because some people wait years.”

Lilah was given part of the liver of a 19-year-old woman with the remainder going to another patient.

Daisy Taylor and Lewis Hopewell with daughter Lilah
Daisy Taylor and Lewis Hopewell with daughter Lilah

Daisy said: “She has recovered really well and come on leaps and bounds which is amazing to see.

"But obviously we think a lot about the donor and the family’s loss, although we don’t know the circumstances.

“We don’t know who she was or her family but we will write to them through the hospital and thank them.

“We just want to wait until they have been through their grieving process.”

The couple, who also have a baby boy Beau, now want to highlight the value of the donor register and have welcomed plans for a new ‘opt out’ scheme proposed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Daisy said: “It would definitely be progress but I urge people to have the vital conversation with their families because if it wasn’t for our donor, who had put herself on the list, Lilah wouldn’t be here this Christmas and I would be visiting her grave.”

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