The Northumberland schoolgirl raising cash for the NHS after having live-saving liver transplant
A nine-year-old girl from Northumberland is well on the road to recovery after an emergency liver transplant.
Honey Gray, from Lowick, is now thanking the doctors and nurses who helped her by taking on a fund-raising challenge for the NHS.
The Lowick and Holy Island First School pupil suddenly became unwell last October but medics were initially unable to provide a diagnosis.
“We first noticed the yellowing of her eyes and took her to the doctors who did blood tests for jaundice,” said her mum, Deborah Ewing. “She started to look yellow on her skin too.”
After initial tests at the Cramlington Hospital she was taken by ambulance to Leeds Children’s Hospital.
“Everything was happening so fast we didn't have time to think,” said Deborah. “Nobody knew what was wrong with Honey at this point.”
It was thought she may have Wilson’s Disease, where copper accumulates in the liver and other vital organs, but the tests came back negative.
While the wait went on, Honey was becoming more and more unwell.
"She was bright orange and her tummy was filling with fluid as her body was failing,” said Deborah.
An ultrasound then showed Honey’s liver was very badly damaged – a condition she'd been living with for some time before symptoms started to show – and doctors decided the best option was a transplant.
“It was a dreadful shock to find out Honey needed a transplant but we knew it was the only choice we had to get her better,” said Deborah.
Honey’s dad, Duncan, joined them in Leeds, while Honey's brother Vincent, 12, stayed with grandparents.
“Two days later they had a liver for her and she was booked in for the transplant the next day,” recalled Deborah, 48.
On October 24 she went into theatre for an eight-hour operation.
"It was the longest day of our lives,” said Deborah.
Honey spent three days in intensive care and a further five weeks in hospital.
She got home at the end of November but had to attend a weekly clinic in Leeds for blood tests.
Unfortunately, her tummy started to build up with fluid again over the Christmas period and she was taken back into hospital.
She recovered and briefly made it back to school but was back in hospital again by the end of January to have a stent fitted after a blockage in the portal vein.
Doctors feared her new liver was showing signs of rejection but she was placed on a course of steroids and a further biopsy in March came back clear.
Then Covid-19 hit and Honey has spent the past few months shielding.
After working her way back to health, she is now going to take on the Step for the NHS challenge for Leeds Cares, setting herself the goal of 7,000 steps a day.
She has already smashed the £1,000 barrier and donations can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/honeybgray
“She's had a bumpy six months but is recovering extremely well now and loving life,” said Deborah. “We are so grateful to the donor and their family, for without a new liver Honey may not have been here today.”