Little Jay Crouch is called “super-human” by his mum after having five organs transplanted in one op.
The seven-year-old is one of the youngest patients in the world to have the “incredibly rare” procedure.
He received two kidneys, a liver, a pancreas and a small intestine from an even younger donor child.
The five organs were removed in one “block” – meaning there were just six connections needed to attach them to Jay’s arteries in the ten-hour operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
He is learning how to eat and swallow, starting with a slice of buttered toast.
The young Leicester City fan had been in and out of hospital his entire life after his small intestine twisted and died when he was just six weeks old.
His internal organs were so badly damaged he had to be fed through a tube in his stomach for years.
Jay’s mum, Katie Freestone, was told he would die without a transplant.
The 28-year-old got a call in March to say a matching donor – a young child who had died – had been found.
Surgeons warned Katie, from Market Harborough, Leics, that Jay would face months of gruelling recovery.
But he was discharged from hospital this week, just one month after the life-saving transplant took place.
Single mum Katie is backing the Mirror’s Change The Law For Life campaign calling for an opt-out system for donation.
She describes Jay as “my little super-human”.
But the full-time carer also constantly thinks about the child whose organs were donated to him.
Hospital bosses have not released any details and it is not known if the child’s family know they have saved a life.
Katie told the Mirror: “When I got the call, I cried, because I knew it was a smaller donor and that’s so sad.
“You can’t express your gratitude enough towards them. There are not enough words.
“Without the organs, Jay would not have survived. Saying thank you really doesn’t cover it. We don’t know much about the donor at all. All we know is it was a child smaller than Jay.
“If the parents wanted to meet I would love to meet them. But right now I want to leave them to grieve because they have just lost a child.”
Katie suspected there was something badly wrong with baby Jay when he struggled to feed and go to the toilet days after being born.
Her “world fell apart” when he fell seriously ill aged just six weeks – leaving doctors at Kettering General Hospital baffled at first.
“He suddenly went floppy and lifeless and was vomiting bile,” said Katie, who is separated from Jay’s dad.
“We called the ambulance and got him to hospital. It was terrifying as he was such a tiny baby.
“Jay at that time was dying. They did all the tests for meningitis , but didn’t check for a bowel problem.
“After quite a few hours he ended up having a cardiac arrest and was fighting for his life. It took four hours for him to be stabilised enough to be transferred to the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
“They still didn’t know what was wrong with him so they did some exploratory surgery and discovered the small intestine had died.
“He was then placed on parenteral nutrition feeding into his veins, unable to eat or drink. As a complication, he got kidney failure, which has progressed.
“The PN feeding also destroyed the liver, so in the summer of 2016 they deemed him poorly enough to go on to the transplant list. We had a wait of 15 months before we got the call.
“For the bowel, it needed to be a small donor, smaller than Jay, because you have to fit the whole small intestine inside. In the last few months his kidneys were really struggling, so if he didn’t have the transplant when he did we probably would have lost him.”
The way the op was carried out means Jay now has four kidneys and two pancreases in his body.
He will spend the next six months at home to minimise the risk of infection as his recovery continues.
“He’s off [school] for six months because he’s immunosuppressed,” said Katie. “We are in isolation to make sure he doesn’t pick up anything.”
Speaking about the Mirror’s Change The Law For Life campaign, Katie said: “I really support what the Mirror is doing. Hopefully the law will finally be changed. It makes sense for it to be an opt-out system.”
The surgery is so rare that Birmingham Children’s Hospital say it is 20 years since they last carried out a transplant like Jay’s. Doctors removed his liver while the kidneys, pancreas, liver and intestine were being removed from the donor.
The new set of organs were attached to Jay’s aorta in his stomach, giving him a blood supply from the heart.
The blood went back to heart via the vein coming out of his liver. The small intestine was attached to his bowel and then surgeons had to wait.
Transplant surgeon Khalid Sharif said: “There are two connections from the vessels’ points of view. One artery gives the blood to all five organs and one vein takes the blood out of it.
“There are two points to join the intestine and two to join the juice from the new kidneys to the bladder.
“You need to see all the organs linking up together.
“If one is not doing it, that’s really heart breaking, because you do not know what is going on.”
Jay’s grandad Tony Freestone, 58, is looking forward to introducing his grandson to the joys of food.
He joked: “I’ve discussed going for a chicken vindaloo at some point, which he is not so keen on.”
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