Rugby family renew organ donor plea as brave Eleanor goes back to school

A seven-year-old girl from Rugby has beaten all the odds to attend her first day at junior school - just three months after receiving a life-saving liver transplant.

Thursday, 8th September 2016, 1:33 pm
Updated Monday, 12th September 2016, 4:01 pm
Eleanor with her brother Thomas on her first day of Junior School.

Eleanor Brinkley joined her classmates at Bilton Junior School on Monday, which also marked the start of Organ Donation Week in the UK.

Her mum Claire Brinkley, 44, said: “It feels amazing. We’ve finally managed to get just a bit of normality back, which is great!”

Eleanor was diagnosed with a rare liver condition at the age of three-months-old and her family knew she would one day need a transplant.

From left: Mum Claire Brinkley, seven-year-old Eleanor Brinkley and dad, Peter Brinkley.

She was added to the transplant list back in January of this year after her condition began to deteriorate - and after a six month wait, the family got the call from Birmingham Children’s Hospital to say a donor match had been found.

Speaking about Eleanor’s return to school, Claire added: “Eleanor’s over the moon about it. Much as we love Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the amazing staff who work there, I think she was ready to be back at home and it seems to have really sped up her recovery.

“She’s doing half days at school at the moment and will be building up to doing full days in the future.”

Eleanor is now looking forward to swimming and ballet dancing and is hoping to take part in a Mud Run event to raise money for charity.

From left: Mum Claire Brinkley, seven-year-old Eleanor Brinkley and dad, Peter Brinkley.

Her family have also voiced their support for Organ Donation Week by speaking out about their experience.

Claire added: “What I would say is if you’re unsure about organ donation, get online and have a look at the impact it has.

“For us it’s obviously been huge. Life changing. Eleanor wouldn’t be here without it.

“Before we got the call, the reality was she was getting close to the end and becoming too poorly for a transplant.

“It felt like we were treading water for such a long time but now we have our life back. We can move forward.

“I will always be so grateful to that donor family for being so incredibly generous and making that difficult decision. It’s the reason my daughter is still here.

“They are experiencing the grief we didn’t have to experience - but I think Eleanor is proof that positive things can come out of terrible situations.”

Professor Deirdre Kelly CBE, Consultant Paediatric Hepatologist and Founding Director of Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s Liver Unit, said: “Eleanor’s now able to enjoy the things that most other children of her age take for granted. That’s been made possible because a suitable donor was found.

“There are still many young people waiting for organs, which is why we’re fully supporting Organ Donation Week. We’d encourage everyone to find out more, sign up and share their decision with their loved ones.”

Registering as an organ donor takes just two minutes online. Visit or call 0300 123 23 23.