SIX months ago Faith Tilley received the precious gift of a kidney from her mum.
The Downpatrick girl was suffering from a rare congenital syndrome, which meant feeding tubes, daily injections, and many operations. But mum Lynsey proved a match for the new kidney Faith desperately needed, and the transplant operation was a success — giving the little girl a new lease of life.
Now well recovered from her operation, the seven year-old wants to give something back. Requesting donations instead of presents for her recent birthday, Faith’s £300 worth of birthday money has gone to the Children’s Kidney Fund for Northern Ireland.
Mum Lynsey Rhodes explained: “Faith wanted to help other children with kidney problems like herself.
“We are just back to normal ourselves after the operations and she is doing great. Faith was never allowed to go on holiday before so she went on holiday to London for her birthday and she is going to Disneyland in June.”
It’s a far cry from Faith’s early years with Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome, which meant her kidneys leaked protein.
Spending five-and-a-half months in hospital shortly after her birth, she endured nightly albumen injections to replace the protein lost in her urine, was tube fed through her stomach, and having suffered a bleed to the brain had to have a type of pump called a shunt fitted.
Another of the side effects of Faith’s condition was loss of appetite, with ‘epo’ shots used to help boost her energy.
It’s a very different story now, though.
“She says, ‘Mummy this is so much more tasty’. She really appreciates her food, her taste must have been impaired.
“She just has more energy. There are more no long trips, getting injections, getting tube fed. She just has to make sure to have two-and-a-half litres water a day.”
It had originally been thought that Faith would have to be treated in the Great Ormond Street Hospital but the operation was able to be carried out at the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast.
While Faith made a swift recovery from the operation, Lynsey admitted it took more of a toll on her than she imagined.
“She was up before me,” said Lynsey. “I could not even visit her I was that bad. I thought it would be easier than it was. I felt like I was missing out because I could not visit her.
“She thanked me by drawing a picture. She is a bit more appreciative towards me and is just is more appreciative of opportunities she can now have.”
Thanking all those who have supported Faith over the years, and helped donate to the Children’s Kidney Fund for Northern Ireland, Lynsey said that exciting opportunities lay ahead for Faith, such as being invited to take part in the Transplant Games in Scotland.
“It will be like a mini Olympics and it’s for children and adults who have had transplants,” said Lynsey. “She was only back in school in January so all is going well.”