TWO TEENAGE FRIENDS, OSCAR AND CONOR, UNDERWENT LIFESAVING LIVER TRANSPLANTS WITHIN 24 HOURS OF EACH OTHER. DESPITE THEIR HOSPITAL BEING A WORLD LEADER IN CHILDREN’S LIVER SURGERY, THIS WAS STILL A RARE EVENT.
Although the two boys took different paths to surgery, both responded very well and were home within two weeks, helped by their amazingly positive mums and access to the Camberwell House, with its own special brand of positivity.
Oscar’s first ever operation, to correct a blocked bile duct, took place soon after he was born. This relieved his need for a liver transplant for many years, but aged 15, he suffered from a severe internal bleed and after just four weeks wait underwent a liver transplant. Conor’s problems on the other hand went undiagnosed until he was 12 years old, when tests revealed that he too would need a liver transplant. He would be on the waiting list for over a year and a half.
Following their initial diagnoses, the teenagers and their mums, Helen and Elaine, met through the Paediatric Liver Disease Foundation, a wonderful charity that provides support for families dealing with paediatric liver disease. When their call to the hospital finally came, the two families were unexpectedly reunited on the paediatric transplant ward at King’s College Hospital, before both boys underwent liver transplants just 24 hours apart.
Bonding through trips away before meeting at King’s seems to have helped the boys with their post-operative recovery. In particular, having a friend just down the hospital corridor really helped them become mobile again. Helen vividly recalls how Conor would leave his bed and wheel himself in his wheelchair down the ward to visit Oscar, which in turn would encourage Oscar to become more mobile, promoting the healing of both boys. Within a short time, they were taking wheelchair trips together to the local park and to the Camberwell House.
The Camberwell House became a source of friendship and a place to take time out away from the hospital, something both families really enjoyed. Elaine recalls how being able to come to the House to cook and eat a family meal together was so important. That the families were able to invite friends to join them, including another family from the ward, was very special.
The two indomitable mums worked with imagination and energy to promote their sons’ healing by fostering positivity and laughter wherever they could, such as organising a sweepstake for families and nurses on the ward complete with handmade Easter bonnets! Both Helen and Elaine were very committed to the notion that recovery is about positivity; the more that can be generated the better the healing process becomes. It is something that they found in abundance at the Camberwell House, for which they were very grateful.