Lucie and Shaun Wilby’s daughter Molly had a liver transplant when she was just two years old back in 2005. Now a happy, healthy ten year old, Molly has thrived since being given the ultimate gift by a family whilst they were going through a difficult journey of their own.
Lucie kept a fantastic blog during Molly’s wait for a transplant that gave a real insight into family life for the Wilbys whilst detailing Molly’s transplant journey; it’s amazing that even during a time of great stress and uncertainty, Lucie and her family were able to remain so upbeat and positive and were even able to retain a sense of humour!
Although Molly has recovered well since her transplant, as with most transplant journeys, hers has been an eventful one. As a baby, Molly was extremely ill; her physical appearance was the first obvious sign that something was wrong and really reflected the turmoil her body was under on the inside. Her skin was virtually green because her little body was plagued by Biliary Atresia. This disease means the common bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is either blocked or completely absent, and what became clear very quickly was that the only option to avoid complete liver failure would be a transplant.
And so the wait began.
As with many transplant stories, one of the most prominent aspects of Molly’s story, aside from any physical condition was the waiting. Most patients will spend a large part of their transplant journeys waiting for a donor to become available and when you’ve got a seriously ill child, waiting for an indefinite amount of time becomes all the more worrying. Not only this, but how can you explain to someone so young why they feel so ill but nothing can be done until they receive that all important phone call?
As any parent would do, Lucie, and Shaun, decided to take matters into her own hands to try and help their daughter. Lucie tried to lose weight in order to be in a better position to become a live donor for her daughter should the wait for a donor continue too long and Shaun was also tested to see if he could be a donor but due to high cholesterol unfortunately this wasn’t an option. Both parent’s efforts really emphasise the reasons why it is so vital for people to join the organ donor register; Molly’s transplant journey could well have been a lot shorter than it was.
After one false alarm and a wasted trip to King’s College Hospital, Molly’s call finally came on Monday 27th June and with a viable liver ready to go this time, she was in theatre within an hour of arriving in London and out again just six hours after her transplant. Obviously thrilled that Molly’s call had come, there was still so much uncertainty surrounding her condition. Hearing stories of other children that had had transplants but sadly hadn’t made it only added to the Wilby’s stress at a time when Molly’s body was still recovering and attempting to adjust to having a new liver. Understandably, the pressure began to mount as Molly looked so well on the outside it was hard to believe that anything negative may have been going on inside her body, and again, all the family could do was wait.
With the threat of a possible rejection in the months following her liver transplant, that thankfully turned out not to be the case, Molly eventually flourished. By January 2006, although she still had to return to Brighton for blood tests, her numbers were looking stable and looking at the pictures on Lucie’s blog, it’s amazing to see Molly looking so happy and healthy compared to the images of her when her skin was so yellow at the beginning of her journey.
Despite Molly’s successful transplant story however, it is important to stress, as Lucie herself does, that for people with Biliary Atresia, liver transplantation does not mean an instant cure. Undoubtedly without a new liver, Molly may not have reached her third birthday, however the Wilby’s journey did not end as soon as she was discharged from the hospital. Molly’s transplant journey brings home the reality of organ donation and how more and more people are needed to sign up to prevent patients waiting so long and diminishing the chances that their condition will deteriorate further in that time. The Wilbys were given the chance to remain a family thanks to the generosity of the donor family and it would be fantastic if other families had the same conclusion to their transplant story: if we give now, others may live in the future and what could be more important than that?