o see him now it’s impossible to imagine Aidan Neale was ever sick.
But the curly-headed youngster was born with a liver too badly damaged to recover without help.
Born at 32 weeks, Aidan was too small for a liver transplant but after doctors in Sydney tried everything else they put him on the list. But they were told paediatric livers came through very rarely.
But while his dad Rob was preparing to give up his own liver to save his son, Rob and his wife Naomi got the call that that there was a liver available for their son, their third child to be born with a rare auto-immune disease called neonatal haemochromatosis. Their first born died at 40 weeks and their eldest son Angus recovered on his own after two months in hospital.
As Rob says: ‘The last thing I wanted to do was have our kid go through a liver transplant, but it was a huge relief.’
Because Aidan was so small doctors had to cut down even the paediatric liver to the size of a lemon and they little boy was in hospital for months recovering.
The Neales are so grateful for their two healthy sons that they are encouraging people to donate to the Westmead Hospital Liver Unit.
When Naomi discovered she was pregnant with Aidan she began treatment that was almost guaranteed to prevent the little boy contracting the disease. But they became one of the rare cases where the treatment didn’t work.
Says Rob: ‘There was just a feeling of pure disbelief that it was happening again.’
But now the couple have two healthy sons and the trauma of the boys’ early childhood is starting to fade.