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Hero Shipston dad saves 4-year-old son with kidney transplant

A courageous Shipston couple are back home with their four-year-old son after a life-saving kidney transplant from his hero dad.

Oliver at home in Shipston with parents Cat Taylor and John Keitley. Photo: Mark Williamson S47/5/21/9459. (47227278)
Oliver at home in Shipston with parents Cat Taylor and John Keitley. Photo: Mark Williamson S47/5/21/9459. (47227278)

Back in 2016 Cat Taylor and her partner John Keitley received the devastating news that scans had picked up a serious problem with their unborn baby’s kidneys.

Cat said: “We found out something was wrong when I was 21 weeks pregnant, they noticed on the scan that Oliver had a glow around his kidneys, it looked like fluid.

“I went the Birmingham Women’s Hospital and they found out that his kidneys and they were damaged. They told me I could miscarry, that he might not grow properly or that he could die within a couple of days of being born. I was just in tears, you hear about this kind of thing happening to other people on Facebook, but you never expect it to happen to you, it’s so scary.

“As soon as I came out I said to my mum, ‘they’re going to tell me to abort’ but I just knew that was something I couldn’t do.

“I went back for regular checks, there were enzymes in my blood because of what was happening with Oliver’s kidneys and I was leaking amniotic fluid, it certainly wasn’t an easy pregnancy.”

On 21st April 2017 Cat and John decided to have Oliver via an elective C section, to give mum and baby the best chance.

“He was born in just six minutes, he looked like a little bulldog, he cried, he weed and he pooped, but then he was just silent, it felt like forever. They took him straight away to PICU because he wasn’t breathing.” Cat said.

Oliver in Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Photo: Submitted. (47227247)
Oliver in Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Photo: Submitted. (47227247)

“I couldn’t move, I wasn’t meant to try for six hours, but within three-and-a-half I was in a wheelchair going to see him. He was hooked up to all these tubes and they told me his lung had collapsed. Over the next few days the same thing happened to both and he was hooked up to an oscillator machine to breath for him, it makes such a scary sound.

“A consultant from the children’s hospital spoke to us and said there was a blockage which meant Oliver couldn’t pee and it was this that had caused the damage to his kidneys. After 10 or 11 days they started to take some of the tubes out and on the 12th day Oliver opened his eyes for the first time, it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, seeing those big brown eyes, he was so cute.

“He had an operation on the blockage, but the damage had been done. They had to put a tube into his heart so they could do his dialysis, and we were allowed home in May, but you have to be so careful with the line, it can get blocked and it can come out, it’s so frightening to know that if you’re out and the tube falls out, it could be big trouble.”

It was clear early on that Oliver would need to have a transplant at some point in the future and mum and dad were soon getting tested.

“Me and John found out quite quickly that we were both matches, we’re all of the same blood type, which is quite handy. They did lots of tests, mixing mine and John’s blood with Oliver’s and they decided that John’s kidney would be most suitable, the most reliable for a transplant.

“Obviously it’s difficult thinking that your baby will need a transplant at some point, but we just took each day as it came, we had to build up Oliver’s weight and he had to undergo another operation beforehand, John had to do all his bloods to get him prepared, but by 2019 we were ready.”

Cat and John were aiming for the transplant in November 2020, but unfortunately the pandemic complicated matters, delaying the life-saving op.

However in February this year they finally got the news they were waiting for, Oliver’s transplant was scheduled for April, and it couldn’t come a moment too soon.

“John found out that they were ready, he came out into the garden and told us, it was so exciting to hear, but it was a nerve wracking wait too, you try not to build up your hopes, you expect it to get put back again. By this point Oliver was on his fifth and final line into his heart, they can’t keep on putting tubes in there because it creates problems with your veins, it was his last chance.

“On 29th April John went into the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 8.30am and Oliver went in at the Children’s hospital at 12.30, weirdly 29th April was the date Oliver was originally supposed to be born three years previously.

Oliver in Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Photo: Submitted. (47227243)
Oliver in Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Photo: Submitted. (47227243)
Oliver in Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Photo: Submitted. (47227234)
Oliver in Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Photo: Submitted. (47227234)

“I felt guilty not being with John, but I had to be there with Oliver, I wasn’t able to visit john either because of Covid restrictions, which was really hard.

“Both Oliver and John are doing great, we’re all back home now, they’re both a little sore, but it looks like everything is going well. Oliver has chronic kidney disease, it doesn’t go away just because he’s had the transplant, he will have to be careful, but this will transform his life.

Oliver at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Photo: Submitted. (47227242)
Oliver at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Photo: Submitted. (47227242)

“John is Oliver’s hero and he’s my hero too, it’s risky what he did, with the ultimate risk being death, but he has saved our boy, he’s given him life and I couldn’t be more proud of him for that, I’m proud of both of them.

“I’d like to thank all the nursing staff, they have been amazing and we’ve made great friends with them, Oliver has even got a favourite called Bethany. If it wasn’t for them Oliver wouldn’t be here today.

“I’ve asked Oliver what’s the one thing he wants to do when he recovers and he says he wants to go on a trampoline, he’s never been able to do that before because of the line in his heart, but one of my friends has been fundraising and managed to get him one. He doesn’t know about it yet, but once we’ve got the garden ready, he’ll be allowed to play on it when he’s well enough.”

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