The first day at school is a milestone in any child’s life but when Hannah Wallace set off for Beighton Nursery and Infant School today (September 7), it marked one her parents, Amanda and Tom, feared they may never see.
Four year-old Hannah, who lives in Mosborough, was born with the rare and life-threatening liver disease, biliary atresia. She underwent surgery when she was just three weeks old, but it was clear by the time she was six months old that this had been unsuccessful, and she would need a liver transplant.
“As Hannah was deteriorating rapidly, we opted for living related liver donation,” explains Amanda. “I was confirmed as a suitable match and surgery went ahead. It was without doubt the most terrifying and overwhelming thing that my family and I have ever been through and it ended in heartbreak and devastation with the news that the surgery had been unsuccessful, and Hannah would need another transplant.”
Sadly, that transplant too also failed, and it was only last October, when Hannah was fortunate enough to receive a third transplant that she began to thrive, started to do the same things as other children her age, and the dream of starting school began to look like a reality.
“As parents we both feel a little anxious about Hannah starting school, especially in the current situation,” admits Amanda. “Hannah has not had a great start educationally, only managing to spend a few months in nursery. But we are also happy and excited for her, finally getting the opportunity to mix with her peers and be a normal little four year- old.
“Hannah has truly been given the gift of life and we can never thank our donor family enough. It is so appropriate that she is starting school during Organ Donation Week. If anyone ever doubts the value of organ donation, just look at her. I would urge everyone to share their organ donation wishes with those closest to them.”
Hannah’s family have been supported by Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF) whose Chief Executive, Alison Taylor, added: “A diagnosis of liver disease is a shattering blow for any family and Hannah’s story is truly inspirational. She has been incredibly brave in the battles she has fought so far. It’s wonderful to see her setting off to school with her peers and we look forward to hearing about what she thinks about this new adventure!”
For more information on CLDF visit childliverdisease.org.