Sunday 18 November 2018

‘He’s our little star’ – Boy's joy after aunt donated part of her liver to save his life

Bobby McKenna. Picture Ciara Wilkinson
Bobby McKenna. Picture Ciara Wilkinson

Elaine Keogh

YOUNG Bobby McKenna is over the moon with his Halloween star costume.

But not nearly excited as his mother, Kerrie-Anne. “He really is a little star,” she said.

In 2015, Bobby was born with a rare liver disease, and came close to death.

However, thanks to his hero aunt, Dawn, who gave him part of her liver, Bobby is alive and enjoying life – and very much looking forward to Halloween.

Bobby is pictured with his aunt Dawn who donated a portion of her liver to Bobby and they show off their scars in 2016. Pic Ciara Wilkinson
Bobby is pictured with his aunt Dawn who donated a portion of her liver to Bobby and they show off their scars in 2016. Pic Ciara Wilkinson

“For a while now, Bobby has wanted to dress up as a star for Halloween, so we got him this costume,” said Kerrie-Anne.

Bobby’s time had just about “run out” when doctors did the life-saving operation in January 2016.

Now, Kerrie-Anne wants everyone to use this bank holiday weekend to talk about the importance of carrying an organ donor card, and letting loved ones know your wishes.

“Bobby had his operation on a Friday. Without Dawn’s donation, he would not have made it to Monday,” said Kerrie-Anne.

Bobby, who is a happy little brother to Leon (10) and Alex (8), had been on 14 different medications every day to keep him alive.

Now, things are looking up and he is enjoying playschool and looking forward to going to junior infants next September.

Bobby McKenna. Pic Ciara Wilkinson
Bobby McKenna. Pic Ciara Wilkinson

Dawn, who is the sister of Bobby’s dad, Noel, donated part of her liver in an operation carried out at King’s College Hospital, London.

“I grabbed the chance to help Bobby with both hands,” she said.

Soon after Bobby was born, he was diagnosed with liver disease.

At seven weeks old, he underwent surgery, but it did not work.

A liver donation was the only thing that could save him.

All the family was tested to see if they were a suitable match.

“I had a feeling I would be the one,” said Dawn.

“I was scared, of course, but you have to be brave and think of the child and the chance you have to save a life.”

The family, from Co Wicklow, has watched with pride and relief as Bobby has gone from strength to strength after his ordeal.

“He is doing great,” said his mum. “He still has regular check-ups, but he is doing really, really well.”

Bobby is on anti-rejection drugs and medication to suppress his immune system, but she is hopeful they will be reduced in the future.

“The first year after the transplant can be difficult because the liver can be rejected.

But he has been blessed and I’d be happy to say this is his liver for life.

“Since we last spoke about Bobby’s story, people have come up to us and said they have signed up for organ donor cards.

“I always had one, even before I had Bobby, but it is only when you see the pain of someone needing a donor that you realise how important it is.”

Dawn said she will support anyone preparing to be a living donor.

“Before the transplant, we knew Bobby’s time had run out,” added Kerrie-Anne. “I would not have him today if it was not for Dawn.

“The doctors were surprised he had got as far as he had without a donor.

“Every time Bobby hits a milestone, I cry. He has wanted to dress up as a star for Halloween for a while now.

“With or without the costume, he is definitely our little star."

Herald

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