The gift of organ donation, in skilful hands…

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Four Colly (or Calling) birds.

A vector illustration of four calling birds.

Colly birds or Calling birds? Which version is the “proper one”, and what’s a colly bird anyway?

After a few minutes research on the internet, it seems that both are correct, colly birds is the earlier term, and a colly bird (coaly bird) is probably a blackbird. So now you know. That’s enough time on that one, though it’s clear you could spend an immense amount of time researching different aspects of this one carol, and that many people do – professionally, however obscure that may seem to many of us.

In May this year, Professor Deirdre Kelly CBE retired from her clinical work with Birmingham Children’s Hospital. In 1989, with a small team, an office in a portacabin and two beds, Professor Kelly and her team set up the UK’s first paediatric Liver Unit and pioneered the UK’s first ever infant liver transplantation. Since then, the survival rate of infants undergoing transplantation has increased from 40 per cent to over 90 per cent. Almost 1,000 liver transplants have now been carried out at the hospital and Professor Kelly has remained at the leading edge of ground-breaking research to improve diagnosis and treatment of liver conditions, not only in the UK but across the world, making it quicker to treat children effectively than ever before.

“When I began,” Professor Kelly said, “I wanted not just to set up the best Liver Unit in the world but also to make sure children and families felt welcomed and cared for. With the help of a marvellous team, I think we succeeded.” Thousands of children, young people and their families agree, including all of us at Live Loudly Donate Proudly.

Professor Kelly’s retirement from clinical work allows her to dedicate more energy to her academic research and to continue to lead pioneering, national work in Hepatitis C treatment for children.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital Liver Unit has worked closely with the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation since 1989 (check them out here). More than £9 million has been raised for research since 1980, most of it donated by families, friends, relatives, and other supporters. That research helps our understanding of children’s liver disease and improves treatments for children and young people.

Behind the scenes are people researching specialist subjects that will seem even more strange and obscure to us than this Twelve Days of Christmas carol, until we need all their skills.

How good to know there are people with the expertise, dedication and compassion of Professor Kelly, and the teams and supporters of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, and so many more like them, committed to finding the very best ways to help our bodies and minds work to their capacity.

If you sign the organ donor register, and share your decision with your family, you can be certain that, should your gift ever become possible, it will be received with the highest level of dedication and honour, the very best care and attention of any gift you have ever given.