Monday, 30 November 2015

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Grandad's plea: Sign organ donor register to give Katelyn a chance

The grandad of a young girl waiting for a life-saving heart transplant has appealed to parents to consider organ donation.

Katelyn McAleavy photo
Katelyn McAleavy and mum Amy Lamb

Katelyn McAleavy is just eight but doctors have warned her family that she could have just months to live.

Her grandad, Steven Lamb, explained: “We always knew Katelyn would need a transplant, but we thought it would be in her teens.

“In November we were told all the reconstruction work she has had done was beginning to show signs of failure.”

Katelyn, of Mirehouse in Whitehaven, went on the transplant waiting list immediately, but as three months have passed without an organ, her worried family have launched an appeal to encourage more people to sign up to the organ donor register.

Mr Lamb admitted that they are acutely aware that for Katelyn to live, another child or young person elsewhere will have died.

“When we were told that Katelyn needed a transplant, we were sat in the hospital trying to take it all in,” he recalled.

“We were discussing it, and we realised that a family somewhere in the UK or possibly Europe is going to have to go through a tragic time. It is a nightmare scenario, knowing another family would have to go through real tragedy for Katelyn to live.”

Mr Lamb added: “We don’t want that to have to happen.”

Despite their sorrow and guilt, Katelyn’s transplant co-ordinator has helped the family re-examine the issue.

Mr Lamb said: “She reminded us that it is a sad and unfortunate fact of life that, irrespective of whether Katelyn needed a transplant or not, people do die. We are not waiting for a child to die, but the bottom line is if a young person does die, we need someone to take that decision.”

“It would be a horrible scenario,” he continued, “but this is a courageous decision that needs to be taken.”

The grandfather accepted that for some people there are very personal reasons why they will not donate organs, but he is pleading with the rest of the population to sign the register and to discuss their wishes with others.

“Katelyn is a little pale and gets lethargic quite easily, but to look at her you wouldn’t think she was someone who was a matter of months away from running out of time,” he said.

The News & Star’s sister paper, The Cumberland News, has been running its own organ donation campaign since May 2012. Promise Life aims to raise awareness of the issue, as well as encouraging more people to sign the organ donor register.

For more information or to sign up, visit


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