Meet Sophie, the Hartlepool student with a 74-year-old’s liver

Sophie Thackray has returned to Hartlepool College of Further Education to study to be a teacher on the art & design course, just two years after undergoing a life-saving liver transplant.

Sophie Thackray has returned to Hartlepool College of Further Education to study to be a teacher on the art & design course, just two years after undergoing a life-saving liver transplant.

1
Have your say

A student has battled back from the brink of death after a life-saving transplant when medics found a 20cm tumour in her liver.

Sophie Thackray 25, says the transplant operation saved her life after medics found a donor match from a 74-year-old woman.

Sophie Thackray has returned to Hartlepool College of Further Education to study to be a teacher on the art & design course, just two years after undergoing a life-saving liver transplant.

Sophie Thackray has returned to Hartlepool College of Further Education to study to be a teacher on the art & design course, just two years after undergoing a life-saving liver transplant.

She was just six months into an art and design course at Hartlepool College of Further Education when she was struck down. A scan showed she had a 10cm non-cancerous tumour on the inside of her liver, but her rare condition left medics baffled and as calls were made to specialists around the globe, the tumour continued to grow.

After complications set in the Hartlepool student was left fighting for her life and was placed onto a life support machine in an induced coma while a desperate search was launched to find her a new liver.

A successful match was eventually found from a 74-year-old woman, and now Sophie wants to raise awareness of the importance of being on the organ donor register.

She said: “Doctors initially thought it was the size of a 10p piece, then it turned out it was a 10cm growth on the inside of the liver and that eventually grew to 20cm.

“They eventually took away 75 per cent of my liver through a re-section.

“I was in and out of hospital with infections when a blood disorder caused issue with the regrowth of my liver and that was when things changed dramatically.

“It really was life and death at that stage.

“I was put to the top of the emergency transplant list, and within seven hours they had found a match from a 74-year-old lady.

“That donation saved my life, because if the wait was any longer it would have been too late. It does feel a bit strange to have a 76-year-old liver when I’m only 25, but I’m just grateful to be here.

“I’m constantly telling my friends and family about the importance of being on the organ donor register and once I get started on the teaching side of things I will be getting that message across as often as I can.

Two years on, Sophie has returned to the college to do a teaching qualification which will enable her to pass on her expertise to the next generation.

She said: “It is great to be back at the college, and everyone here knows how grateful I am for the support I was given throughout my illness. My course was placed on hold, and I was able to return last year and finish it.”

“I’m now on a course which allows me to teach other art and design students.”