Video: Family’s pride as tragic 23-day-old baby saves life as Yorkshire’s first neonatal organ donor

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A selfless Yorkshire couple who faced the loss of their baby daughter just days after her birth have seen her become the county’s first neonatal organ donor.

Ami and Liam Duggleby, who live in Little Driffield, East Yorkshire, were told within 24 hours of her birth that their daughter Minnie had congenital heart problems and vital muscles missing from her throat earlier this year.

Parents Liam and Ami Duggleby with their daughter Lilly, three, months after their second daughter Minnie passed away at just 23-days-old. Picture by James Hardisty.

Parents Liam and Ami Duggleby with their daughter Lilly, three, months after their second daughter Minnie passed away at just 23-days-old. Picture by James Hardisty.

She was facing the prospect of multiple open heart surgeries to repair her under-developed heart and surgery on her trachea when doctors advised that she was unlikely to survive the procedures.

The couple requested that their daughter be allowed to pass away peacefully rather than suffer – but then surprised doctors at Leeds General Infirmary by asking that her organs be donated. She died at just 23 days old.

In a pioneering procedure, in which she became one of only six neonatal organ donors in UK history, the tot’s kidneys were removed and transplanted into an adult donor who is now in recovery.

Mrs Duggleby, a 28-year-old optical assistant, told The YP: “She’s done more in her little life than I have in 28 years. It’s just made a really horrific experience more positive. We will never forget her.”

Minnie Duggleby pictured in hospital.

Minnie Duggleby pictured in hospital.

After a routine pregnancy, Minnie was born at Scarborough General Hospital weighing 6lb 14oz before she fell ill and was transferred to LGI for emergency surgery.

Doctors reported that she had a “slim to none” chance of surviving the series of operations needed, so she was eventually taken off her ventilator and passed away. The family has since received letters of thanks from the recipient of Minnie’s kidneys.

“I could honestly burst with pride for Minnie,” Mrs Duggleby added. “There’s a part of Minnie and a part of me in that person and without it they might never have got a donor.”

The couple are speaking out as part of The YP-backed Be A Hero campaign, run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTH), to encourage more sign-ups to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

It comes after we revealed that just 114 people in Yorkshire donated their organs last year, while around 800 seriously ill people in the county await lifesaving transplants.

Dr Simon Flood, one of the clinical leads for organ donation at LTH, said: “Ami and Liam’s remarkable courage, at a time of great sadness and personal loss, has touched the hearts and lives of many people across Yorkshire and we hope it’ll enable more families to consider donation.”

Across the UK there are around 7,000 people in need of organ transplants, and of those around three a day die waiting.

Click here to support the Be A Hero campaign and sign the NHS Organ Donor Register.

SUPPORT DONOR CAMPAIGN BY SIGNING REGISTER

The Be A Hero organ donation campaign, which is backed by the YP, is coming to the Trinity Leeds shopping centre today.

Yorkshire families affected by organ donation, including Liam and Ami Duggleby, will attend alongside nurses and clinicians from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust which is behind the campaign.

The event will raise awareness of the growing need for more people to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register from 10am to 4pm.

To read more of our Be A Hero stories visit yorkshirepost.co.uk and search #BeAHero.