Mid Ulster boy (2) may need liver transplant

Cathan Owens who may have to undergo a liver transplant operation
Cathan Owens who may have to undergo a liver transplant operation

A Mid Ulster couple whose young son suffers from a rare liver disease hope to find out next week if he needs a transplant.

Two-and-half-year-old Cathan Owens, from Maghera, was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a condition in which inflammation develops within the bile ducts leading to duct damage and scarring of the liver.
Mum-of-four Joanne told the Mail yesterday that she and husband Paul are hoping to hear “good news” when they visit Birmingham Children’s Hospital where Cathan received emergency surgery just over a year ago.
The couple have embarked on a fund raising campaign for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, who have provided support for the family.
Cathan’s condition is unpredicatable and this means they have to be ready to drop everything when he becomes unwell.
In April he had a relapse just as the family were preparing to take him to Lourdes. But they Joanne became concerned after noticing his stools were black while changing his nappy.
From Antrim Area Hospital they were taken by air ambulance to Birmingham Children’s Hospital after doctors discovered Cathan was bleeding internally.
Cathan underwent an emergency procedure to have his blood vessels banded to stop the bleeding. He has since returned to Birmingham for a second time to undergo the banding procedure.
Joanne explained that he may have to undergo banding for a third time however if this doesn’t work, he will require a liver transplant.
She admitted that hearing he might require a transplant came as a bit of a shock but they will cope with it if has to be done.
Despite the uncertainty lying ahead, the couple are holding fund raising events in July and September for the Children Liver Foundation and are appealing for local people to show their support.
A family fun day is being held in The Lurach Centre, Maghera on July 1 from 1.30pm to 5pm. There will children’s activities including face painting, bouncy castles and games on the day. There will also be a BBQ and craft stalls.
There also plans to hold a charity disco on September 2 in The Premier Bar, Maghera.