A YOUNG transplant survivor who underwent life-saving surgery to give her a new liver aged just seven months is to take part in a national sports competition which celebrates the difference organ donation can make.
Shocked Tracy and Antony Greenwood were told their daughter Ellie had liver cancer when she was only 12-weeks-old.
And after undergoing chemotherapy in an attempt to shrink the tumour, the family were given the devastating news a liver transplant was the only option.
Now, more than six years on, the Kimberworth schoolgirl is fit and well - and looking forward to taking part in the British Transplant Games for the fourth year in a row.
Tracy, 38, said: “We heard about the Transplant Games during Ellie’s time in hospital and it sounded like a fantastic event.
“Ellie absolutely loved it and she hasn’t looked back since.
“When she was poorly it was hard to imagine she’d ever be running around and taking part in anything like that.
“The event is a great way of spreading the message about the importance of organ donation, as well as a chance for us as a family to spend time with others who have been through a transplant and overcome it.” Tracy and Antony, also 38, first became concerned when Ellie developed a swollen stomach when she was just weeks old.
Doctors initially thought she had a less serious liver condition, but when she became increasingly unwell and stopped eating, doctors diagnosed her with cancer.
When treatment was ineffective, Ellie was put on the NHS organ donor list and was lucky to wait only 10 days for a new liver.
Tracy, a stockroom assistant, said: “The operation went well, but following the procedure Ellie suffered a leakage in her liver which meant she had to stay in hospital for a further three months.”
She and Antony, a civil servant, were at her bedside constantly during her time there until eventually, when she was 10 months old, Ellie was allowed home from hospital.
But their battle was not yet over because chemotherapy had damaged her kidneys.
Ellie, now aged six, will have to take medication every day for the rest of her life and must avoid certain foods like shellfish and unpasteurised dairy products containing bacteria that could be potentially harmful.
The damage to her kidneys has also left her with a weakened immune system.
She still has yearly check-ups for cancer and has to undergo regular tests on her heart to monitor it for potential damage.
But despite her condition, Ellie has defied the odds and is now preparing to compete in her fourth Transplant Games this August with the Leeds Children Team, sponsored by Sheffield health insurance company Westfield Health.
At the games in Belfast she will compete in activities including a 50- metre sprint, ball throwing and an obstacle course.
It is estimated that 28 per cent of the population of the UK are on the organ donor register - but in South Yorkshire just 24 per cent of people have signed up, putting it below the national average.
“An organ donation gives the recipient a second chance at life and Ellie wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the kindness of the stranger who helped our little girl,” Tracy added.
“People wouldn’t think twice about accepting an organ if they needed a transplant, but there are still so many who are reluctant to be a donor.
“By adding your name to the register you can save a life”
n Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk to sign up to the register.