Watch: 'My best friend saved my son's life - we consider her a second mum'
A baby in need of a liver transplant has had his life "saved" by his mother's best friend, who is now considered a "second mum" to the toddler.
When Lauren Beckett, 26, a civil servant from Toddington, Bedfordshire, gave birth to her son Tommy, he was diagnosed with neonatal hemochromatosis.
The rare disorder causes excess iron to pool in the liver and doctors warned he might die without a new liver.
An urgent appeal saw more than 200 people put themselves forward as potential donors, without success.
Thankfully, Beckett's best friend, Kayleigh Taylor, 34, a payroll clerk from Clare, Suffolk, came to Tommy's rescue by donating part of her liver after testing positive as a match.
"What she [Kayleigh] did is just incredible," Beckett, who lives with partner Callum Harknett, says. "We see her as Tommy's second mum. Although I gave birth to him, and he is my son, she saved his life and gave him the gift of life – it was such a selfless thing to do."
Tommy was born on October 31 2021, but 12 hours after his arrival doctors noticed he was cold and suffering from jaundice, which they suspected could be caused by a twisted bowel.
The newborn was moved to King's College Hospital, London, and, two weeks later was diagnosed with neonatal hemochromatosis.
Taylor and Tommy both underwent surgery on December 17, 2021, with Tommy spending eight hours in theatre at just six weeks old.
Having spent five months in hospital, he has since made a great recovery, but will be on immunosuppressants for the rest of his life, which help prevent his body from rejecting Taylor’s liver.
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Taylor says she wouldn't hesitate to do it all again if it meant saving her friend's son. "I don't know why anyone wouldn't have put themselves forward," she explains. "I'm grateful it got to be me who helped Tommy.
"Every time I see Lauren, she says she doesn't know what she'd do without me, but I don't feel she has anything to thank me for."
As well as helping to save life Taylor says it has "totally changed" her friendship with Beckett.
"We are so close," she explains. "A day rarely goes by where we don't speak. Then with Tommy, I feel an overwhelming need to protect him and know he's ok. It's not a feeling I've had before."
Read more: Woman donates kidney to husband after couple turn out to be a 'one in 22 million match' (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)
During his recovery, Tommy went from strength to strength and is now walking and talking.
"He loves the outdoors and going for walks. He is always mesmerised by trees," Beckett says of her son, who is now almost two. "Spending the first five months in hospital, he is behind, but he is doing amazing.
"I am such a proud mother."
The family always celebrate December 17 as the day Taylor "saved Tommy’s life".
"It's the day both Kayleigh and Tommy underwent surgery," Beckett explains. "It is our second Christmas day and we call it our Christmas miracle."
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Now that he has made such good progress with his recovery, Beckett says she is looking forward to the future, which includes hopefully sending Tommy off to nursery in a year's time, something she says is "only possible" thanks to her friend.
"Tommy is such a lively, loving, friendly, and most importantly, brave little boy," she adds. "He is my world, we all love and adore him so so much."
Organ donation in the UK
Organ donation is when you decide to give an organ to save or transform the life of another person. You can donate some organs while you are alive, and this is called living organ donation.
Across the UK, more than 1,000 people each year donate a kidney or part of their liver while they are still alive to a relative, friend or someone they do not know. However, most organ and tissue donations come from people who have died.
The NHS Organ Donor Register and National Transplant Register, which matches donors to people who are waiting for a transplant, facilitated nearly 4,600 transplants in 2022/23.
It is estimated there are around 7,000 people on the UK Transplant Waiting List. Sadly, last year over 430 people died while waiting for a transplant.
English organ donation law has recently changed, so that now adults in England are considered potential organ donors, unless they choose to opt out or are in one of the excluded groups. This is commonly referred to as the ‘opt out’ system.
Transplant laws in the UK prohibit the sale of human organs or tissue.
For more information about organ donation in the UK visit organdonation.nhs.uk
Additional reporting SWNS.