The mum of a Market Harborough boy who is thriving after a rare five organ transplant earlier this year, has appealed for local people to sign the organ donor register - and tell their family.
Speaking in national Organ Donation Week, this week, Katie Freestone told the Mail: “Yes, sign the organ donor register, but even more importantly, do discuss it with your family.
“Even if you carry the organ donor card, you need to have the discussion. Otherwise, the family can still say ‘no’.
“It’s not a very nice conversation to have, especially for a family with children, but it’s a conversation you need to have before a tragedy happens.”
Katie’s son Jay Crouch, who is now eight, received two new kidneys, a pancreas, liver and bowel during a marathon 10-hour operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in April.
Katie (28) said at the time: “There aren’t enough words to say ‘thank you’ to the donor and their family.”
Now, almost six months on, she said: “Jay’s progress has been fantastic, amazing”.
And she says the whole outlook for the Market Harborough mum and son has changed thanks to the organ transplants.
“I’ve been so afraid to ever plan ahead, because I never knew if there’d be an ‘ahead’ for Jay” she said.
“Now - thanks to a donor - we’ve got a chance to look into the future, and have hope, and plan things.”
Jay had suffered with a condition called short bowel syndrome since he was six weeks old, when doctors discovered his small intestine was twisted, which in turn caused complications with his kidneys and other vital organs,
The strain on his body resulted in the failure of his own organs, which made the multiple transplants necessary.
His consultant surgeon Mr Khalid Sharif said: “Without the generosity and selflessness of donors and their families and loved ones, such life-saving procedures simply couldn’t take place.”
After a couple of “very, very cautious” months of quarantine at home in Market Harborough, Jay gradually started seeing people and then going out.
“It’s been quite demanding on him, staying at home - he’s a very active boy” said Katie.
But Jay is looking to return to his town school later this month, and is “desperate to see all his friends”.
And further ahead, the boy who has always relied on wires and tubes should start to enjoy a “normal-ish” life.
And of course the same goes for mum, who has been Jay’s full-time carer since he was born. “I’d like to do a college course” said Katie.