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Bradley is loving life

Nikki and Spence share their son, Bradley’s story, which they hope will be helpful to other parents.

Bradley our second child was born on November 5th 1999 and was absolutely gorgeous and so easy to love. He was full term and very bonny but developed jaundice at a few weeks old, I was told not to worry as it was very common but at four weeks old, he was admitted to our local hospital here in North Devon due to continuing jaundice for investigations. Our paediatrician was fantastic. He had worked at Kings College Liver unit and was concerned that Bradley had biliary atresia.  Two days later he was referred to Kings College Liver unit and we drove to London in a state of shock, as were all our family.

Bradley had his life saving Kasai surgery  on Christmas Eve 1999 by Mark Davenport, (his surgeon – now a professor) who gave up his annual leave to do his surgery for which we will be forever grateful.

Bradley’s diagnosis came as a shock

Bradley’s prognosis was very poor indeed and Mark discussed he was likely to need at least one transplant but he may not see his first birthday due to other issues which only became apparent at the time of surgery. We were devastated and I felt as though I had dropped into a huge black hole I had no way of getting out of. We then knew that the next few months were going to be tough but no one can prepare you for this or how it feels.

Anyway, we had a few rough years with his health and various hospital admissions but he did really well and did not require a transplant . Bradley not only made his first birthday, but his tenth and 20th too.

Bradley went to our local school, then college in Exeter on the train where he met Charlotte at the age of 17. He then went to Cardiff University to study Earth Sciences , graduated with a 2:1, which he was delighted with, and started his first job a week after his last exam.

We always encouraged Bradley to do as many sports and activities as he wanted to. He not only is a good sailor and canoeist but has mountain biked all over the place too including the UK, Alps and Canada. He can also do a neat Dressage test in a one-day event and is brilliant with horses, as is Charlotte.  He has climbed lots of mountains and loves walking.

Bradley and Charlotte are fans of the great outdoors

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t find out about CLDF until Bradley was nearly six months old. I had no idea when he was first admitted to Kings that there was wonderful support available to us. I clearly remember seeing a booklet at one of his appointments and I plucked up the courage to call and actually spoke to (former CEO) Catherine Arkley for about 30 minutes or so.

Since then we have had lots of support over the phone which has been great and, because of this, we’ve arranged cream teas at my parents’ home multiple times and twice climbed Helvellyn mountain in the Lake District raising much needed money to carry on all the good work CLDF do. Although Brad is an adult now, we still feel very passionate, as he does, about supporting families, research and all the other good things the charity does for so many people and families.

Bradley (24) and Charlotte moved into their lovely first home together two years  ago after totally renovating their cottage which was great fun for all of us. They have a cat, Athena and now their own adorable horse,  Lily. Bradley recently got a new job as a hydro geologist for the Environment Agency in Exeter, which he loves.


Health wise, we’re fortunate that Bradley remains well. He has annual checks for his liver and heart at Kings so, each year, he and Charlotte head for London for a break and incorporate the appointments amongst sightseeing  and theatre trips which I think is a wonderful idea.

 After many ups and downs during Bradley’s lifetime, and particularly the traumatic start, it is wonderful to be able to tell his story. To all the parents of young children with liver disease we hope this story from a very happy mum and dad brings you some joy and hope for the future of your little one too. Life can be so very hard at times which makes the joy and good times all the more enjoyable and sweeter.

 I would be very happy to chat to any parent who may find it helpful and can be contacted through CLDF.


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