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Autistic Kidney-Row Teen’s Transplant ‘A Success’

August 31, 2022

The mother of an autistic teenager who went to court to secure him a life-saving kidney transplant has said the operation has been a success.

Ami McLennan said her son, William, had “defied all odds”, after a donor was found just over three weeks ago.

A Court of Protection judge had ruled a transplant essential for his “long-term survival”, despite doctors arguing it was not in his best interests.

William is now sitting up in bed, after being on a ventilator for 17 days.

“He is doing amazing – he has proven everyone wrong,” Ms McLennan told BBC News.

“I can’t believe he was sedated for so long – it was terrifying watching them taking the ventilator out, not knowing how he would react, how he would feel.

“He just looked at me and gave me the biggest smile.”

‘William’s shoes’

The 17-year-old, who also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), had been told he had just 12 months to live without a transplant.

His kidney function was at just 5% and the time his veins could continue to cope with the haemodialysis treatment he had been having for nearly a year was limited.

But Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital said the chance of his disease – steroid resistant nephrotic syndrome – recurring in a new kidney was very high.

Doctors also warned William would struggle to cope with all the wires and lines attached to his body as well as the after-effects of being sedated for so long.

But, in February, Ms McLennan secured his place on the donor list.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot said the case was extremely complex and doctors had “agonised over what was in William’s best interests” but she had put herself in “William’s shoes” and he should have a transplant.

A deceased donor was found in early August and when Ms McLennan received the call, William was at Blackpool Pleasure Beach with his brother.

She “dropped her glasses in shock” and had told him he was “going on an adventure”, she said.

“He was a bit nervous when we got to the hospital but the surgeon was so lovely,” Ms McLennan.

“He said, “I’ll look after your boy like he’s my boy and I’ll bring him back, don’t you worry.'”

When William awoke, he asked her where he had been on his “adventure”.

“We’ve been to find you a new kidney,” Ms McLennan told him.

‘So proud’

After 23 days, there has been no sign of disease recurrence – although, William is still being monitored.

If his new kidney remains healthy, his life expectancy will have increased by at least 15 to 20 years.

He is still in intensive care but has been able to sit up, chat with his mother and siblings and play on his Xbox.

“He keeps asking when he can go back to work,” Ms McLennan said.

“He’s desperate to get back into all the things he loves doing, playing golf, snooker, and just being back at home.

“Despite all the odds stacked against him, and being told that he wouldn’t be able to cope with all the lines and wires attached to him, he’s kept going – and I’m so proud of him.”

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