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Three-year-old Lurgan girl skips off to first day at school after liver transplant

When she was just 19 days old, Indie was given a life-saving liver transplant and now, she’s excited to be heading off on a new adventure at Aghagallon pre-school

The first day of pre-school is a real milestone for most children, but even more so for little Indie Hogan and her parents Samara and Ciaran.

The three-year-old Lurgan girl, who suffered acute liver failure as a baby, has marched off to her first day at nursery school with her head held high.

When she was just 19 days old, Indie was given a life-saving liver transplant and now, she’s excited to be heading off on a new adventure at Aghagallon pre-school.

Mum Samara said: “She has been so excited about starting school and we are very excited for her because we know she is going to love it.

“We are obviously nervous, as she will be in a class with so many other kids each day and there is always the worry of risk of infection, but we just have to remind ourselves that we are lucky she is well and able to go to school.

“The nurses said to us once that we can’t wrap her in cotton wool, she got a second chance at life so we have to let her live it. We just remind ourselves of that and take things as they come.”

When Indie was born in May 2020, she appeared healthy, but her parents decided to take her to hospital when she was 12 days old due to concerns that suspected reflux might be more serious.

“She also had jaundice but that had already been checked and considered to be normal baby jaundice,” explained Samara. “So it was worrying when blood tests showed that her liver was not functioning properly.”

The family was urgently transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where further tests and scans revealed Indie was suffering from acute liver failure.

Samara says that the news was a “dreadful shock”.

She continued: “She was placed on the super urgent transplant list immediately and was fortunate that a liver became available within days and the transplant was a success. We still don’t know what caused her liver to fail.”

Indie’s hospital stay and transplant took place during the Covid lockdown, and although this involved many restrictions, her parents feel that the overall impact on her development is not as bad as it could have been.

“It’s true that Indie couldn’t mix with other children, but all babies born around that time didn’t have the usual start,” said Samara. “Because of this and the fact that she had so much interaction with medical professionals, I didn’t feel she was falling behind in meeting her milestones.”

As Indie was recovering from her transplant, her parents became aware of the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF).

Explained Samara: “CLDF are such a brilliant support for families in our situation and are always so friendly and helpful.  They have provided us with various information leaflets, a pack to share with Indie’s pre-school to give guidance on managing a child with liver disease, and have even spoken to the teacher to offer support and answer any questions.

“Indie has done so well since her transplant and continues to amaze us. She has daily medicine and attends regular hospital appointments but she’s outgoing and sociable and her liver condition hasn’t held her back at all.”

Mairead Ritchie, PR & Comms Manager at Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, added: “It’s brilliant to see Indie hitting this milestone at the same time as her peers.

“We’re delighted to have helped with her entry into pre-school and will continue to be there for her and her family throughout her educational journey.”

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