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New lease of life for Charlie after liver transplant

Thursday, 29 March 2018

New lease of life for Charlie after liver transplant thumbnailCharlie Lynch pictured in the helicopter on his way to hospital for a liver transplant.

MIRACLE boy Charlie Lynch was recovering in King's College Hospital, London this week after receiving a lifesaving liver transplant on Sunday night.

The brave Tullamore youngster was flown by helicopter to hospital from his home in Wales to undergo the nine-hour operation.

His mother Helen accompanied him on the flight after receiving the phone call she had been waiting years for.

"We got a call at 1 o'clock on Sunday to say we had a potential donor and that we were going to be airlifted to King's," said Helen.

An ambulance arrived and took the nine-year-old to the helicopter for the one-hour flight to London.

"He loved it even though he got a bit travel sick and then he fell asleep," said Helen.

It was the second time for the boy to be brought for an emergency transplant but on the previous occasion the donor organ was not suitable.

"I was worried that they were going to bring him the whole way and then we'd have to go back again but were were told it was a match," she said.

Charlie was prepared for the operation and received his general anaesthetic at about 8.30pm on Sunday evening, remaining in the care of the transplant surgeons until 4am on Monday.

Helen was delighted to report yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, March 27) that he was recovering well.

"He's doing brilliantly. He's talking and the doctors are even surprised at how well he is doing," she said.

Charlie's resilience has been confounding the experts for a number of years and he has been examined by numerous medical students.

He was diagnosed with a very rare condition, biliary atresia, when he was only four months old.

He spent most of his first year in Crumlin children's hospital, Dublin and continued under their care until Helen decided to move to the UK to be nearer a liver transplant hospital.

The most obvious physical symptoms were his jaundiced colour and an enlarged belly.

Both are already starting to change. "The biggest thing is getting used to the colour and the way he's turning white. And he keeps looking at himself with excitement," said Helen.

He was still in the intensive care unit yesterday afternoon but was due to be transferred to the high dependency unit on Tuesday evening.

"By the end of the week we're hoping to have him in a normal ward," said Helen.

He is now facing into a recovery period which could last from two to six months but Helen is hopeful the worst is over.

"Thank God, because it's been one hell of a journey," she remarked. "It's been a nightmare, to be honest."

Charlie's condition had worsened considerably in the last couple of weeks and he had to be taken out of school and put in a wheelchair.

Helen told King's last Wednesday that she thought he could not wait any longer and even threatened legal action.

"After nearly four years looking for a donor Charlie got to where he couldn't walk or go to school and he couldn't even go a few steps," she said.

Luckily, a suitable liver became available and staff at King's have told Helen that he is the longest surviving patient of his kind they have ever had.

"There's always the chance of rejection but we hope and pray it'll be okay," said Helen.

The little boy's grandmother Julie Lynch lives in Tullamore in the house where Helen, Charlie and one of his other brothers, Daniel (10), were residing before the move to Wales.

While living in the UK Helen gave birth to her third son, Leo. He is now four months old.

She has not been back in Ireland since December 2016 and she has not decided yet when she will return.

"After everything Charlie's been through I'm going to leave it up to him," she said.

"He does miss Tullamore and his friends and he talks about them and he has settled here and likes it and has loads of friends, probably more than I have, but he misses his nanny as well," she added.

She thanked the donor family and hopes to meet them one day and shake their hand because they gave her son the gift of life.

Helen said she would be eternally grateful to everyone who helped her through the long journey with Charlie.

"I can't wait to get back homes to see everyone. The support I've got from everyone at home and all over Ireland, and England and Wales has been overwhelming," she said.

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