Donor campaign launched in memory of Mollie

Mollie Barton

Mollie Barton - Credit: Archant

Mollie Barton lost her courageous fight for life on April 29, aged just 20. Her family are determined her memory will live on and have launched an awareness campaign called B Positive (B+) to promote the importance of organ and blood donation.

Running for Childrens Liver Disease, are Lauren Barton, and mum Monica Barton,

Running for Childrens Liver Disease, are Lauren Barton, and mum Monica Barton, - Credit: Archant

Sadly this week, new figures, from NHS Blood and Transplant, show 4,431 transplants took place in 2014/15 - a fall of 224, or five per cent, on 2013/14.

Mollie, a former St Ivo School pupil, was born with a rare genetic disorder called Alagilles Syndrome which affects the heart and liver and she was not expected to survive past her first birthday.

At the age of two she underwent open-heart surgery to repair two holes in her heart and was prepared for a liver transplant when she was seven, but tests showed her condition had responded well to medication and the transplant was no longer deemed necessary.

In the intervening years, Mollie, of Hemingford Grey, had monthly check-ups at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, which has a world-renowned liver unit, and apart from her yellow pallor, due to jaundice, and a few health setbacks, she managed to live a near normal life.

Mollie’s family describe her as full of character and a “cheeky wee imp” who always had a smile on her face.

“We get so much comfort knowing that Mollie has touched so many hearts in her time on this earth,” said Mollie’s mum Monica.

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“She inspired and helped so many people through her short life, with her attitude, words of encouragement and advice to others. This is a huge comfort to us.”

Despite remaining relativity healthy for so long, in December last year, Mollie became unwell.

People began to notice that the whites of her eyes were yellow and she had developed a cough.

She enjoyed Christmas with her family, but had become depressed and was struggling to cope.

In January, Mollie, who was now extremely jaundiced, was referred to the Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre, Birmingham, and the only thing that could have saved her was a new liver.

Mollie, who had the rare blood group B+, required numerous blood donations, was losing weight and there was a build-up of fluid in her body, which made it difficult for her to walk.

She was placed on the transplant waiting list and although her family were well aware of the statistics surrounding available organs, they believed a liver would become available and Mollie would be given her second chance.

Sadly, Mollie never got that chance as she died after she developed pneumonia and septicaemia before she was able to have the transplant. Her family are raising money for The Children’s Liver Disease Foundation and want to reduce the stigma attached to liver disease.

“Liver disease is associated with alcohol abuse, but Mollie was born with her condition and did not choose to abuse her body,” said Monica.

“Many of us in our lifetime will be willing to receive blood and organ donations, but so few of us are willing to give. It is only when your family is effected head-on that you are catapulted into a desperate fight for life, where the need for blood donation and organ donation becomes paramount – a matter of life and death.

“Without people taking time out of their busy lives to donate blood, or sign up to become an organ donor, more and more people are going to die, being denied a second chance of life.

NHS Blood and Transplant, which published this week’s figures, hopes it will change attitudes so that people are not dying needlessly.

“We have always known that because the opportunities to donate are so small, it is essential to increase the number of people who say ‘yes’ to organ donation,” said Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant’s director of organ donation and transplantation.

“If the pool of potential donors is reduced then this is even more important. We understand that families are expected to consider donation in their darkest hour so we would remind everyone to tell those closest to you now if you want to donate your organs – and then record that decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

Monica added: “There is a nationwide shortage of organs and one person has the potential to save nine others – what a legacy to leave behind.”