A desperate mother has saved the life of her young son, who had just days to live, by donating part of her liver.
Claire DeStratis, 33, risked her own life by undergoing the dangerous transplant surgery in a bid to save her six-year-old son, Jake, who was on life support after catching a virus at school.
DeStratis, who is also mum to Mia, 7, and Evie, 3, endured a six-hour operation while Jake was operated on for 12 hours. However the transplant is working “like a miracle”.
“I didn’t even have to give it a second thought,” the Victorian hospitality worker said.
“When he was ill, I wasn’t in control. When I found out I was a match for Jake, I was in control again.
“They don’t really want to use living donors but it was so urgent, they couldn’t keep him on life support for much longer so he only had days left.
“Everything has worked like it’s a miracle.
“The surgeons said it was a beautiful piece of life and it’s working fantastic.
“They’re extremely happy with how it’s gone.”
Jake had caught a bug at school in February and quickly contracted viral hepatitis.
When his condition began deteriorating, Jake was rushed into intensive care and put on life support. The schoolboy urgently needed a new liver, so medics put him at the top of the transplant list.
Both Claire and her construction worker partner, Beau, 34, stepped forward to donate part of their liver and, luckily, Claire found out she was a match.
A few weeks ago, she went under the knife in the risky operation to donate 20 per cent of her liver.
“He’d only been at school 11 days when he caught the virus,” she said.
“He was vomiting, then his eyes started turning yellow so I took him to the hospital and the next thing we knew, he was on life support.”
Claire explained that when they found out it was hepatitis, they thought he’d just get better. But then he deteriorated really quickly.
“He was transferred to the big children’s hospital here in Victoria where they work magic, and he was put on life support,” she said.
“He needed a liver transplant so the first thing I asked was whether me or my partner were a match.”
She said the situation was terrifying, as it had all happened within two-and-a-half weeks.
“He was such a healthy, charismatic boy, who was making all the doctors laugh,” she said.
“But the damaged liver wasn’t removing toxins from the blood and it was making him delirious.
“He was basically losing his mind and the doctors said he was behaving like a drunk person and didn’t know what he was doing.
“They’d brought a Chaplain into the room to bless him and that’s when I realised how serious it was.”
Thanks to his mum, Jake is recovering in hospital and Claire gives all credit to the surgeons who carried out the operation.
“I’m still in some pain because recovery is six weeks,” she said.
“Jake has been in hospital for over seven weeks now and he’ll be on medication for the rest of his life.
“People should keep their children home when they’re sick. It was just a small virus and it almost cost Jake his life .
“I didn’t save his life, the surgeons did.
“After the operation, the surgeon came over and said I’d saved his life and I told them that they had.”