A mum has been left feeling overwhelmed after her best friend stepped in to donate part of her liver to save her six-month-old baby. Watch the video below:
Lauren Beckett, 25, gave birth to Tommy, who was diagnosed with neonatal hemochromatosis - a condition which is caused by a faulty gene and means that people with the disorder cannot control their iron level, which causes damage to their organs, according to the NHS.
Medical experts feared that Tommy would die without a liver transplant, and an urgent appeal saw over 200 donors signing up to potentially donate to the Bedfordshire-based infant.
But it turned out that Lauren’s best friend, Kayleigh Taylor, 34, would give her son a fighting chance after she tested positive as a match and donated part of her liver to Tommy.
“I’m so grateful to Kayleigh,” Lauren, who works as a civil servant, admitted.
"I can't talk about it without getting emotional.
"Without Kayleigh, Tommy would have died. Before the transplant, they didn't even think he was going to be strong enough for the surgery. It was really scary.”
After enduring a normal pregnancy and labour, the infant was transferred to the NICU ward in Luton and Dunstable Hospital with symptoms of jaundice and low blood sugar just 12 hours after he was born on 31 October 2021.
Tommy was then transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital at three days old with worries he could have had a twisted bowel, before being moved once again to King's College Hospital at one week old, where it became clear there was something wrong with his liver.
The baby was finally diagnosed, at two weeks old, with the inherited condition.
After his diagnosis, Lauren sought comfort from Kayleigh, who she originally met through work six years prior.
She said: "That night, I wasn't calling her to ask her to be a donor - I was just overwhelmed and scared and I needed somebody to cry to.
"After our phone call, she spent all night researching if she could be a donor despite having Gilbert's syndrome - which affects your liver - and then booked in for tests.”
From then, Kayleigh, who is also a civil servant, underwent a series of blood tests, a CT scan and an MRI scan before being put on the standby transplant list whilst they waited for the results to come back.
But because of Tommy’s rapidly declining condition, doctors asked Kayleigh if she would be willing to go ahead with the transplant before the final test results were confirmed.
"We didn't even know if Tommy would be well enough to go for the surgery, but they managed to stabilise him and then they both went down to theatre,” Lauren explained.
Tommy and Kayleigh both underwent surgery on 17 December 2021, with the six-week-old baby spending a terrifying eight hours under general anaesthetic in the operating theatre.
But nine months on from the procedure, Tommy is thriving, while Lauren and Kayleigh’s friendship has reached new heights after her brave donation.
She said: "Now, they're both absolutely fine, and Tommy is doing so well, all thanks to Kayleigh.
"It doesn't feel real. She saved him, and I will never be able to thank her enough."
Kayleigh now has a completely different ‘connection’ to Tommy following the procedure, despite having two children of her own.
"The connection I have with Tommy is something I've never felt before. It's not something I have with my own children - it's a totally different feeling, like an overwhelming need to protect him.”