Northern Ireland

Five-year-old from Lisburn competes in transplant games

Lucyellen
Image caption Lucyellen with her medal and teddy bear at last year's British Transplant Games

Lucyellen Johnston's father saved her life.

She has the scar across her stomach to prove it.

A few weeks after birth, the little girl from Lisburn was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare liver condition.

She had some surgical procedures to try to manage the symptoms, but within months, she was left with no option but a liver transplant.

The weeks on the donor register felt like years to her parents, so when the possibility of becoming a live donor was mentioned to her father Edward Smith, he didn't hesitate.

"Looking back, I think there was only about 15 people had done it before me," he said.

"A donor came up, but obviously somebody who was a higher priority got it, so, we kept getting knocked back and knocked back and this seemed like the only option.

"She was dying in front of our eyes."

Image caption Edward and Lucyellen a few weeks post-op

Edward faced a battery of tests to check if his liver was up to having two-ninths of it removed.

And while he was in one hospital having the section removed, several miles away seven-month-old Lucyellen was waiting to receive it at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

"She did have complications in surgery," said her mother Marianne Johnston.

"But thankfully she came through the other end.

"She spent over three weeks in intensive care because she was so poorly, and in total we spent 17 weeks in Birmingham Children's Hospital."

Beanbag tossing, running & football

This weekend, Lucyellen will take part in her second British Transplant Games in Wales, where she'll be one of the youngest competitors.

She's taking part in four events and, after winning a medal and a teddy last year, is taking training very seriously.

"I do beanbag tossing, running, doing football with my daddy," she said.

"He saved my life because he gave me his liver, because my liver was broken."

Image caption Lucyellen's parents said they cried tears of joy watching Lucyellen participate in the Games

Lucyellen will be one of more than 1,000 competitors in Newport.

"Last year watching her was absolutely breath-taking, it was fantastic," said Marianne.

"There were tears of joy as she was running, doing the 25 metre dash and the obstacle course. Because I never thought she would achieve this, you know?

"So seeing her do so well, day in day out, and to participate in the British Transplant Games is just amazing."

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