Life Stories

Fern's Gift to Her Cousin Tiffany

Fern's Story

If I am honest, being an organ donor had never even crossed my mind, let alone being a live donor.

When my cousin, Tiffany, became ill I witnessed first-hand just how important organ donation is.  When we found out Tiffany’s Kasai had not worked and that she would need a liver transplant to survive, my whole family went into turmoil.  I would leave hospital visits in tears after seeing how much my baby cousin was suffering and the desperation in the eyes of my aunty and uncle.

I remember thinking that there must be something that someone could do to help her; the wait for a new liver could be a long one and, realistically, I knew that Tiffany might not be able to wait.  Both my aunty and uncle had looked into being a live donor for Tiffany but were told it would not be possible as there are lots of aspects to take into account and neither of them was a suitable match.  That was when I decided I would put myself forward for live donation.

Tiffany became very ill very quickly so five weeks later I finished assessment and the operation took place.  I received a phone call to ask if I could make it to the hospital by 2 pm on the same afternoon for the operation to take place the next morning.  I wasn’t the slightest bit scared; I was actually relieved.

When I woke up from surgery, I was in pain but the doctors and nurses did everything that they could to keep it under control.  When I heard that my liver was the perfect match for Tiffany, the pain didn’t seem to matter any more.  I was so relieved that the surgery had been a huge success.  I spent nine days in hospital recovering and a further four weeks at home; some days were harder than others.  Hearing updates on how well Tiffany was doing made the whole journey worth it.  

When I was finally able to see Tiffany after transplant, I was so overwhelmed with emotions seeing her bright blue eyes and the change in her colour; she was no longer yellow.  Knowing that I was able to save her life is an amazing feeling that is hard to put into words.  Seeing Tiffany continuing to do so well is what puts everything into perspective for me.  Without a new liver Tiffany would not be here with us today.

Tiffany's Story (as told by Mum Dee)

To say "Thank you" just doesn't feel enough.  The truth is that our baby was dying; time was running out.

I never allowed myself to think about Tiffany dying because then it would have been as though I had given up, but we were powerless just watching our baby deteriorate before our eyes, witnessing her vomit fresh blood and needing transfusions and urgent care.  Seeing her with wires and machines keeping her alive, we needed a miracle fast.

Never did we think that it would be Fern who saved our baby.  She's so young and beautiful with her whole life ahead of her.  To be left with a scar for life and risking her own life just didn't seem right.  But she was determined out of love for Tiffany.  She never once told us - and nor did we fully understand - the full extent of what she was about to do for our daughter.  Without her selfless gift we wouldn't be watching our daughter thriving, flourishing into a beautiful little girl, playing with her siblings and completing our family.  The truth is, without Fern the story would definitely have been very different.  We now know that the next transplant that would have matched Tiffany from an organ donor wouldn't have been available until the following January - but Tiffany would not have been able to wait that long.

I always say that Fern takes everything in her stride; she's just perfect.  Of course, we always knew that but this just took our feelings to another level.  One day in the future when Fern starts a family of her own, I truly believe that it is then she will truly understand how we feel and just how thankful we are.  We all love her to the moon and back.