Baby in need of a liver transplant has his life saved by his mum's best friend

Baby Tommy was born with a rare disorder with doctors warning he could die if he didn't receive a liver transplant. His mum's best friend stepped forward to donate part of her liver after testing positive as a match.

Video transcript

- I'm Lauren. This is Tommy. I'm Tommy's mum. And this is Kayleigh, my best friend and also Tommy's donor. They were able to confirm that Tommy did have neonatal hemochromatosis, which is extremely rare. And it could go either one of two ways-- that his liver would regenerate and fix itself basically or that he would need a liver transplant. What's that then? Oh no, Captain Calamari. Clever boy.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, he wasn't really getting any better. He was extremely, extremely jaundiced at this point. And myself and Tommy's dad Callum were sat down and said that he did need a liver transplant. And obviously no parent wants to hear that, especially at such a young age. But straight away, me and Callum done a media appeal. And overnight, the liver coordinators had over 200 applicants for donors all across the world.

- Who's this one? Who's this one?

- Kayleigh didn't initially herself forward purely for the fact that she has Gilbert syndrome. I hope you don't mind me saying that.

- No, course not.

- She has Gilbert, so she didn't think she was going to be a suitable match. But I remember ringing her one day when we got told Tommy's chances of survival in absolute tears because I did think I was going to lose him. And that night-- I didn't even know, but that night she stayed up all night researching to see if people with Gilbert syndrome could be a donor.

- It was worse for me to think that I couldn't be a donor when I knew I had Gilbert syndrome to when I found out that actually it was an option because I was never prepared to let anything happen to Tommy if I could do anything about it. It was really hard because I couldn't tell Lauren and Callum at that point. Obviously wanted to give them some hope but didn't want to get their hopes up too much.

My transplant coordinator got a phone call to say that Tommy had declined and it was then like all systems go. They were like, right, we're just going to do everything now. And as soon as I put myself forward, I knew-- I knew it would be me. I remember begging them as I was been put under the anesthetic, just get Tommy through this.

- Ready?


- She got you.


- It was in December. We got told on Thursday that it would be-- you know, we have got a donor. It is Kayleigh. And it was the night before his operation. I was able to walk Kayleigh down to surgery in the morning. It was first thing. I think it was probably about 8 o'clock?

- 8 o'clock in the morning.

- 8 o'clock in the morning. So I was able to walk her down. I think we held hands the whole way, didn't we?

- Yeah, we did.

- And that was hard because she's got two children. She's got a family, you know? And she was putting herself at risk, really, to save my little boy. And Tommy was in theater for about 8 hours. It was very, very, very touch and go at times. His blood pressure was all over the place. He lost obviously loads of blood. They said it was a perfect match.

They prepared us that Tommy may have to come back open because he's having an adult liver and he was six weeks old and he was a small baby anyway. But he was closed. He didn't have to have any mesh or anything. He was completely closed. Yeah, and now fast forward on, you're 10 months now. And you're doing so well, aren't you? I mean, yeah, the hospital seem very happy with him now. Kayleigh has her checks, don't you?

- Yeah.

- Your check-ups.

- Yeah, all been fine. Absolutely fine.


- I'm sure she won't mind me saying that when we both met each other, we thought we didn't like each other. Once we got put in the same team and started training together, we became really, really good friends really quickly. And yeah, it was so meant to be. She's always been there for me. Hopefully I've always been there for her. And now we've got a bond that most people could never have really.