Big Yellow Friday Stories
Every week 20 children in the UK are diagnosed with a life-threatening childhood liver disease. There is still no cure and little understanding about the causes and treatments. All children affected will require a lifetime of care with many requiring transplant.
By joining in with #BigYellowFriday and raising vital funds you are helping Children’s Liver Disease Foundation to support the many children, young people and families affected.
The support CLDF provided in the first few weeks of diagnosis was priceless to us.
My instinct told me just weeks after having my twin boys that there was something wrong with Reid. He wasn’t thriving in the same way has his brother, Eldon. He wasn’t gaining weight and his skin was a yellow colour. When his eyes turned yellow, we took him to the emergency walk-in centre but we were completely unprepared for what followed.
To be told when your twins are nine weeks old that one of them has a rare disease you’ve never heard of and then goes into surgery for over six hours, then people start mentioning transplants is scary to say the least.
Obviously we were anxious for more information but when we Googled biliary atresia, as you naturally do, all the results were from medical journals except for the CLDF page which explained it all in plain English. This helped me to explain to our friends and family what was wrong with Reid.
I quickly found the CLDF Facebook page, messaged them, and within 24hours their families officer had been to see us on the ward with lots of literature. This information wasn’t just for us – there was specialist information for our local GP surgery. I am delighted to say that when I passed it onto them, they reacted very positively. It has led to changes in practices and retraining of staff at the surgery so I now feel confident that future cases could be picked up more quickly.
CLDF also put us in contact with other families so we could talk to them and gain an understanding of how biliary atresia would fit into our lives and what living with it could be like. This has actually led to new friendships and given us support as hospitals can be lonely and scary. And of course the biscuits and tea and friendly ear on their regular visits to the ward are always welcome!
Donations from Big Yellow Friday provide Children’s Liver Disease Foundation with the funds to produce a large amount of literature for hospital visits, and also contributes to the cost of a families officer who is dedicated to families affected by childhood liver disease.
Eight year old Harrison was born with the rare genetic condition, autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, a condition which also affected his liver..
.. It meant that he was very poorly from birth and had problems with his blood pressure, feeding and physical development
“His first year of life was touch and go” explains Harrison’s dad, Mick. “He had a kidney removed at eight months old and his energy levels were extremely low. When he was five years old he underwent a kidney and liver transplant and consquently mised a lot of his first year at school.. Harrison life was more hospital stays and appointments, procedures and operations than a “normal” baby, toddler and starting school life.
“Happily, since his transplant his quality of life has improved greatly and now he is able enjoy is life and be included in activities which wouldn’t have been possible before. However he does have to take daily medication and have regular check ups and because his condition is so rare, it can be difficult for other children to understand the impact.
“It was during a visit to the liver clinic last year that we met the families officer from Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF). It was great to realise that there was an organisation there for families like us with people we could talk to.
“She told us about Wild Camp, a weekend away in the ‘great outdoors’ for young people and a parent. Harrison and I were very keen – it sounded like great fun and nothing we had done before!”
So Harrison and his dad headed off to deepest Derbyshire for a weekend of games, campfire cooking and even building and sleeping in their own shelter!
“We loved it!” says Mick. “Harrison loves making new friends and learning new skills and he particularly enjoyed baking his own bread and eating pigeon stir fry. I just loved the whole thing. It was so nice to chat to parents who completely understand our situation and for Harrison to realise that he is not alone and there are other children coping with rare conditions just like him.
“He now has the time and energy to catch up with his peers physically and educationally. Wild Camp was such a positive experience for him and he can’t wait to come back.”
Donations from Big Yellow Friday provide Children’s Liver Disease Foundation with the funds to continue a national event programme dedicated to families affected by childhood liver disease.
Gemma was just seven years old when she was diagnosed with the rare liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).
Children’s Liver Disease Foundation provided her parents with information about her condition but Gemma herself only connected with the charity when she was 16 and they invited her to take part in Talk Tell Transform, a project which enables young people with liver disease to use the latest digital technology to make a film telling their own story.
“By this time I have to admit I was in a pretty dark place,” admits Gemma. “Having a rare liver disease can make you feel so lonely, as if no-one knows what it’s like. But I went along and it changed everything for me. “The film making process was great fun but, more than that, it was the people I met. Suddenly there were people who knew just what it was like to have a liver condition – people I could talk to.”
Gemma, who is now 19 is still close friends with the people she met through CLDF. “It’s a massive support network for me and, if I didn’t have this, I know I would feel very differently about my liver condition,” she explains. “I want to make sure that other young people in my situation have access to this kind of support.”
Donations from Big Yellow Friday have helped Children’s Liver Disease Foundation to put on events such as Talk, Tell, Transform.
Thomas from Portadown in Northern Ireland who was born in March 2017 was just eight days old when his GP referred him to hospital with a slight heart murmur.
“When the hospital did blood tests, they could see that there was a problem with his liver but he also had sepsis” explains Thomas’ dad David. “The next day we were transferred by air ambulance to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where they successfully treated the sepsis but confirmed that he had biliary atresia, a rare and life threatening liver disease “
It was while David was in hospital with Thomas that he first encountered Children’s Liver Disease Foundation. “The staff would come into the hospital, talk to the parents and patients (if they were old enough). They would bring in cakes and get anything that was needed. It sounds like a very simple thing, but when you have been living on the ward for an extended period any glimpse of reality helps.”
Even after Thomas was discharged from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the next few months were tough on the whole family as Thomas’ condition did not improve and there were several trips both to their local hospital and to Belfast Children’s Hospital.
On September 24 Thomas was admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital once more and his family were told that a liver transplant was his only option. Fortunately he did not have to wait long for a donor liver to become available and received his transplant on October 7. After two weeks he was able to come home and happily he has continued to thrive since. Throughout their experience Thomas’ family has found CLDF’s support extremely valuable.
“As well as visiting us in hospital, CLDF organise events here in Northern Ireland which the whole family can attend” says David. “It means Thomas’ elder sisters and brother can meet others who have been through the same experience of having their parents away for extended periods while their sibling has major surgery. I always feel it is the other children that suffer privately and these events really help as they know they are not the only ones who have been through this separation.
“Medical staff do a wonderful job and take care of the patient’s every need but having someone to talk to, having a cup of coffee and a bun handed to you can turn a very stressful and unbearable situation into something that can be coped with and this is where CLDF come in. The simple act of friendship from someone who has time and knowledge to explain something is more important than anyone can imagine.”
Donations from Big Yellow Friday provide Children’s Liver Disease Foundation the funds to put towards a support team to attend hospitals and clinics and meet families such as the Bell Family.
“My daughter Charlotte became un-well in May last year and was transferred from our local hospital to Kings where, after several tests, she was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).
It’s a shock to be told that your 11-year-old daughter, who was previously fit and well, has a rare liver condition. Even though I’m a nurse I knew nothing of childhood liver diseases (I had specialised in adults with cardiac conditions) and I was keen to find out what information and support was out there.
We found out about CLDF from a leaflet in the parents’ room on Kings’ Rays of Sunshine ward and Charlotte, her elder sister Jessica and I all attended the CLDF conference and family weekend in October. Although her condition is now stable, thanks to the care of the amazing team at Kings who still see her regularly, Charlotte’s diagnosis had left her feeling isolated and low and we wanted her to meet other children with similar conditions. I’m happy to say it did the trick! Charlotte had a great time, made new friends and realised she was not alone. In fact, she’s already signed up for CLDF Breakaway in May.
So, this was my motivation to fundraise for CLDF – I wanted to give something back to a small charity which has been such an enormous help and support to us as a family over the past eight months. I chatted with Sophie and Lucy at the family weekend about how I could help and there it started! It started with siting a couple of collection tins in local businesses. Now I think I have six to keep track of and I’m still looking for homes for more!
Big Yellow Friday is a great opportunity to get more people involved in fundraising. I happen to work at Charlotte’s school so we will have an extra big push on it! We’re having a Wear Yellow Day, (including a penalty payment for wearing non-uniform that is not yellow!) and a ‘Guess how many sprinkles on the yellow cake’ competition. Because Charlotte was diagnosed at the end of her time at her primary school, they have also agreed to run Big Yellow Friday there too, as well as in two other schools in the education trust. So, we should be collecting in funds from four schools in total!
I’m pleased to say I’ve had a positive response to Big Yellow Friday, especially when people hear my story and I would say to anyone who is thinking about getting involved just go for it! You can do as much or as little as you like or have time for. It is a great feeling to know that you are contributing to helping others, especially those closest to you. I am not an event’s organiser nor a sales person, but I am proof that you can approach people and have success! Just ask – they can only say no and might just surprise you! I don’t have loads of time to spare – like many people I have a very busy job – but I feel this gives me something back that most jobs can’t – a warm and fuzzy feeling that you are making a difference!
-Julie, Charlotte’s mum
“My son Joseph has biliary atresia. His first few years were tough – he spent a lot of time in hospital – and Children’s Liver Disease Foundation were always there for us with information and support.
Joseph had not been at school long when his health deteriorated and he went on the transplant list. He was fortunate to receive his new liver when he was six and since then has gone from strength to strength.
Joseph’s school, St Charles Primary, had been really understanding of his condition right from the start, and continued to be brilliantly supportive when he was able to return. So when I knew Big Yellow Friday was coming up I decided to ask if they would get involved. I thought it would be a good way of helping other children understand a bit about Joseph’s liver condition and of giving something back to CLDF.
They loved the idea and we decided to have a yellow themed cinema afternoon showing the Minions Movie – what else?!
The afternoon was a huge success. The children paid £1 to come to school in yellow and watch the film with popcorn instead of Friday afternoon lessons! And it was a lovely way for Joseph’s school mates to show that they were really behind him. The local paper came along and took pictures, which was a great way of raising awareness. And we raised an amazing £520 for CLDF.
I would advise any parent whose child has a liver condition to ask their child’s school about joining in with Big Yellow Friday. It’s a great way for children to show their support and find out about a charity they may never had heard of.”
– Elizabeth, Joseph’s mum
“As a family we know all about the impact which child liver disease can have.
Habiba, who is the youngest of my five children, was diagnosed with biliary atresia at birth. By the time she was five her condition had deteriorated and we were told she needed a transplant.
Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful and a year later she underwent a second transplant. Sadly that failed too as did her third. It was only after her fourth liver transplant that she began to thrive. We had started to wonder whether her body could survive it all but she came through it and is now full of energy and doing well at school.
We have had so much support from CLDF that we always join in Big Yellow Friday. It’s a great way of raising awareness of children’s liver disease. So many people know nothing about it at all.
Habiba’s school are really supportive. They always have a Wear Something Yellow Day and a cake and samosa sale – we have raised over £2,000 to date.
We are already planning next year’s event!”
– Farzana, Habiba’s mum
“When your child has a liver disease it affects the whole family. My youngest child Tiffany, who is now two, received a liver transplant last year. Thankfully she is now doing really well but the support of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation has been invaluable to us all as a family.
So earlier this year I asked the staff at Abbey Primary School, where her older siblings go, if they would like to get involved in Big Yellow Friday and they were delighted to!
I suggested a Wear Yellow Day as it’s really easy to organise and all the pupils paid £1 to join in with that. In addition the Year Two and Year Three pupils put their heads together and decided they would like to do a sponsored walk.
I was really touched to get so much support from children and staff who don’t even know Tiffany. It just shows the response you can get when a school understands that something is directly affecting one of their own families.
They raised a fantastic £1,235 in total.
I felt so proud and so grateful that afterwards I went in to do a little talk at their assembly about liver disease and organ donation and the children were really receptive.
I know that we can all be a bit reluctant to approach schools about fundraising because they do get loads of requests from bigger charities. However when there is a personal connection it is a bit different and even if they only do a Wear Yellow Day it can bring in a lot of money.
I always say ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’ so go for it!”
– Dee, Tiffany’s mum