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One of NZ’s first liver transplant babies, now 24, makes dying appeal

The young Kiwi's enduring wish is to raise awareness about the importantance of organ donation.
Liver transplant baby Steven Young

Steven Young, one of New Zealand’s first ever liver transplant babies, is terminally ill after his third transplant operation failed.

Young, who is now 24-years-old, was born with Biliary atresia, a rare disease that affects the bile ducts in the liver.

When he was just four-months-old, specialists told Young’s parents he would need to be flown to Brisbane for a liver transplant and his surgery would cost $250,000.

Young’s plight made headlines at the time, and a nationwide campaign fronted by celebrities including the late Jonah Lomu, Sean Fitzpatrick and photographer Anne Geddes helped to raise the funds needed for the life-saving surgery.

All Blacks legend, the late Jonah Lomu. Photo: Getty Images

In an interview with the Herald on Sunday, Young’s mother Zana Collins recalled people’s generosity at the time and touchingly offered her thanks to all those who helped.

“We want to thank everyone involved back then but also everyone else, from people who gave 20 cents to $20.

“There were people who recognised Stevie in his push-chair and ran over and gave us a few dollars to help,” Collins said.

Young has now had three transplant operations in total. He had his first operation when he was two. This was followed by a second operation when he was 12.

While each of the operations extended Young’s life by 10 years, his third operation in 2015 was not as successful with specialists informing Young’s family five weeks ago his situation was terminal.

Despite the fact Young only has a short amount of time left to live, his sister Sommer-May Lee told NZME his greatest wish was to raise awareness of the importance of organ donations.

“Our whole family is really passionate about this,” Lee said, “and we think we should have an “opt out” system for organ donation.”

More information on organ donation in New Zealand can be found here.

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