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Africa’s youngest liver transplant patient on way to recovery

Hudson Wilson, the youngest recipient of a liver transplant in Africa, with his twin sister Harley. Picture: Supplied

Hudson Wilson, the youngest recipient of a liver transplant in Africa, with his twin sister Harley. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 22, 2022


Pretoria - Hudson Wilson, the 8-week old twin who became the youngest patient in Africa to undergo a liver transplant at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Joburg north, is on the way to recovery.

Hudson’s donor was Ali Piper, his mother Dani Wilson’s best friend, who has gone back to work and is living a normal life.

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Wilson said everything went south and the unexpected happened when her healthy newborn baby became very sick.

“The last two months have been extremely hard and a complete emotional roller-coaster. Hudson and his twin sister Harley were born at 35 weeks. They were strong and healthy babies.

“We could never have imagined that eight weeks after their birth, he would be in the transplant ICU ward fighting for his life. This is where the sickest of the sick go, and many don’t make it out.”

Hudson had bad tummy cramps in mid-April which quickly escalated. He was admitted to the newborn ICU the following day.

In addition to being in acute liver failure, Hudson’s blood was clotting and he tested positive for enterovirus.

After running tests to confirm the cause of the liver failure, doctors explained that a liver transplant was the only option to save his life.

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“The doctors told us on April 22 that a transplant was his only chance of surviving. We knew we needed to fight and to give him every chance we could,” said Wilson.

Wilson said Hudson was now home and with his family. “He is still on a lot of medication and has constant check-ups to make sure he is doing okay, but he is doing well.”

She said Hudson was a miracle baby and encouraged parents with very sick children not to give up hope.

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“As parents, you need to be on the same page; you must support, love and trust each other. And reach out and ask for help. The support of our family and friends has been invaluable in getting us through this.

“Find other parents who are going through the same thing and speak to them. Also, trust the doctors. They have your child’s best interest at heart, even if it’s not what you want to hear.”

But family support and hope are often not enough, Wilson said: “I would urge all parents to look after themselves financially. I had taken out Critical Illness Lump Sum cover, in 2020 on the recommendation of my financial adviser.

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“At the time, I wasn’t aware that my children would also be covered at no additional cost. That cover has been an absolute blessing at this time, with all the extra stress and expenses.”

Wilson advised parents to do what works for their family. “We took turns living in the hospital to stay sane and for the sake of our other children at home.”

Pretoria News