Rugby family's plea for more people to become organ donors

The family of a young Rugby girl who received a crucial liver transplant last week are urging more people to join the organ donation register.

Friday, 17th June 2016, 8:41 am
Updated Friday, 17th June 2016, 9:42 am
Eleanor with her brother, Thomas, after the operation. NNL-160615-111628001

Seven-year-old Eleanor Brinkley was diagnosed with liver disease as a baby and her parents - Claire and Pete Brinkley - knew from a young age that she would need a transplant.

But as her condition began to deteriorate over the last year, the odds of a donor match becoming available in time seemed increasingly unlikely.

The situation became so desperate that Eleanor’s mum, Claire, was lined up to undergo major surgery in July to donate a lobe of her own liver in an effort to save her daughter’s life.

Eleanor with her parents, Pete and Claire Brinkley, before the surgery. NNL-160615-114259001

Thankfully, last Friday morning, the family got the call they’d been waiting for, telling them that a donor liver had become available.

Eleanor went into surgery at Birmingham Children’s Hospital that evening and although the road to recovery will be a long one, the doctors are pleased with her progress so far.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Claire said: “Eleanor is doing amazingly well. She was in intensive care for less than 24 hours after the operation and has even managed to walk a few steps from her bed to a chair.

“I obviously feel very sad for the donor family who have lost a loved one and for what they must be going through - but two people have been saved by that liver. My daughter is one of them.

Eleanor with her parents, Pete and Claire Brinkley, before the surgery. NNL-160615-114259001

“Part of the reason I’ve been so public about discussing our situation is that I cannot have another family going through what we’ve been through. The situation in this country with the lack of people on the donor register is ridiculous.

“All of those healthy organs that are so desperately needed to help people like Eleanor survive are just going to waste.

“Some people are also signing the register and not telling their families what their wishes are. We really need to have that conversation and be more open about it.”

She added: “I’ve had private messages on Facebook from friends and from people I don’t even know telling me they’ve signed up, so being open about it really is making a difference.

“And it’s not just adults, children can sign up too - Eleanor’s ten-year-old brother Thomas has signed up. Children can be very philosophical, so it’s worth asking them.

“Our friends and family have been great and Bilton Infant School has been absolutely amazing - they’ve really held us together. Eleanor wouldn’t have been able to go to school without their support. Birmingham Children’s Hospital has also been incredible. We’ve been so well supported.”

Anyone wishing to become an organ donor can sign up at or call 0300 123 23 23.