Sunday 25 August 2019

Guest of honour: Emily gets liver transplant from heroic donor

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who hosted the naming and commissioning ceremonies of the new Naval Service vessel L.É. George Bernard Shaw on the Frank Cassin Wharf in Waterford.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who hosted the naming and commissioning ceremonies of the new Naval Service vessel L.É. George Bernard Shaw on the Frank Cassin Wharf in Waterford.

Conor Kane

Little Emily Byrne was guest of honour when the Naval service's newest vessel, the LÉ George Bernard Shaw, was officially named and commissioned.

The event came just months after she received a liver transplant from a "living donor" who is in the service and a family friend.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar might have travelled to Waterford to oversee the proceedings, but all eyes were on 22-month-old Emily, from Knockanore, near Tallow in Co Waterford.

Emily carried out the naming ceremony with help from her mother Ann Marie, while her proud dad Seán and big brother Cormac looked on.

And also present was petty officer Naval diver John Fenton, a friend of Emily's family and the donor.

Emily was just five months old in late 2017 when, seriously ill, she was flown to King's College Hospital in London by the Irish Air Corps and placed on a list for an immediate liver transplant.

But Mr Fenton voluntarily donated 20pc of his liver to Emily, putting his own life on hold for a year as a result.

"She's good overall," her mother Ann Marie said after the ceremony. "She's flying around the place and living life to the fullest.

"She's getting up to all sorts of mischief, it's fantastic, and that's thanks to John being her donor.

"If he hadn't put himself forward as a donor, we don't know where we would be now."

The Taoiseach said Mr Fenton's act "epitomises the values of our Naval service; courage, determination and putting other people first".

Irish Independent

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