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Bowel transplant

Few boys have faced as many trials as Aaron Gray. He received a liver and small bowel transplant when he was just three and has also had two heart operations.

Few boys have faced as many trials as Aaron Gray. He received a liver and small bowel transplant when he was just three and has also had two heart operations.

Family life for Catriona Gray and her partner William, who live in Peebles, Scotland, was turned upside down when it was found that Aaron, their first child, had been born with an acute heart condition that needed immediate surgery.

The operation saved his life, but while he was recovering Aaron caught an infection that destroyed most of his small intestine. At five weeks old it was likely he would die. "We were told to prepare ourselves for the worst," says Catriona.

Aaron pulled through, but suffered acute liver damage. Aged only seven months, he needed a new liver and small bowel. Aaron finally left hospital for the first time when he was 13 months old, but his heart was too weak to undergo transplant surgery and his future looked bleak.

"It was a worrying time. We feared the worst," says Catriona. "Then, at last, we had some good news. Aaron's liver started to repair itself. His jaundice went and he was the healthiest he had ever been. He'd defied all the odds stacked against him."

In the summer of 1999, when he was almost three, Aaron was declared fit enough for open heart surgery. However, he again fell victim to a severe postoperative infection. His jaundice returned, his liver was suffering and by January 2000 he was in urgent need of a transplant. Then came the agonising wait for a donor.

The call came at the end of May. The family were rushed by air ambulance from Scotland to Birmingham for the operation. A liver and small bowel had been donated by the parents of a 10-year-old boy and were successfully transplanted into Aaron.

He improved rapidly. Within two weeks of the transplant the yellowness of jaundice had gone and Aaron's appetite returned, along with his health.

"Aaron now lives a wonderful, normal life and can eat for Scotland, and loves his veggies. He has a strong, outgoing personality, without which I'm sure he wouldn't have made it through these past years," says Catriona. "He is an inspiration to us all.”

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