The parents of a baby boy with a rare disease have celebrated a day they feared they wouldn’t see – his first birthday - after his father donated part of his own liver to save him.
Polly and Ross Wooding, of Trafalgar Drive, Deal, marked their son Hugo’s first birthday on September 29 with a picnic for friends and family at Toddler’s Cove in Canterbury.
Mrs Wooding said: “It was really lovely and Hugo really enjoyed it.”
Hugo was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a liver disease affecting one in 15,000 babies, at the QEQM Hospital in Margate when he was eight weeks old. The disease impacts on the drainage of the bile from the liver, resulting in liver damage.
The tot was operated on in December, at King’s College Hospital, London, but in February, Mr and Mrs Wooding received the devastating news that Hugo needed a transplant in order to survive.
He was added to the transplant list in March but his parents were warned it could take them up to a year to find a suitable organ.
Some good news came when the couple were told that part of a liver could be taken from a living donor as the liver can regenerate itself. The donor’s liver would re-grow to normal size, as would the transplanted portion Hugo received.
Some even better news arrived when they found out his dad Ross was a suitable match.
On Friday, June 5, exactly 14 weeks after they were told that Hugo needed a transplant and after two failed attempts, he was given a new liver.
Mrs Wooding said: “It was unbelievable. I noticed a change in him over the course of the day. He’s always been a happy boy and very resilient but he’s now so full of energy. He refused to sleep for a few weeks.
She added: “It was really overwhelming for us. It was like we were seeing the real him for the first time.”
Mr Wooding is recovering well too. He has been back at work since early September and attended his final routine check-up in London yesterday.
Since becoming a mum, Mrs Wooding has kept a blog, Life of a Liver Mum.
She wrote: “Even though I’m obviously really super mega excited about it (Hugo turning one), I also feel a tinge of sadness when I look back over Hugo’s first year.
“When I think about everything he has had to go through and overcome to get to this point, I can’t help but feel that way; no parent should ever have to question whether their baby will make their first birthday, but as his liver disease progressed, we did.”
Hugo will have to be closely monitored for the rest of his life. He currently has three-monthly check ups and fortnightly blood tests.
Mrs Wooding, who says she’s been neglecting her blog recently, said: “I’m just making the most of being his mum.”