Many mysteries still surround the two-week illness that left Bendigo boy Roman Middleton needing a liver transplant last year.
The aggressive virus that almost claimed the six-year-old’s life remains unidentified and so too does the person whose death gifted him a new liver.
Or half a liver, to be precise.
The donated organ saved two people’s lives last April.
But perhaps the most mysterious of all the family’s unanswered questions is how doctors found the boy a matching donor just hours after being put on the waiting list.
The prep student was hospitalised when his skin and eyes turned yellow and, with just 15 per cent of his liver functional, Royal Children's Hospital medics earmarked Roman for an organ transplant.
“It was a shock. It just happened so quickly,” his mother, Jess, remembered, saying the family readied themselves for a long wait.
But it was just 12 hours later when she awoke to a phone call that explained a matching liver was found.
The marathon, 12-hour operation went smoothly, and Roman was discharged two months later.
Road to recovery
Apart from a daily dose of medication to keep the liver compatible, Roman is just like any of the other children with whom he attends Holy Rosary primary school.
On Thursday afternoon, he played happily with siblings Hunter and Sahara in the family’s White Hills lounge room.
Not only were his loved ones now registered to donate organs, they were also determined to give back to the hospital that saved the young boy’s life, Ms Middleton said.
Roman will travel to Melbourne next month to present the Royal Children’s Hospital with an $11,000 cheque, proceeds from a charity golfing event.
But Ms Middleton implored people to not only give their cash, but be willing to part with their organs too.
“You don’t talk about it until you need to, so everyone should have that conversation with their family members because Roman wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for organ donation.”
She said she would forever have gratitude and sympathy for the grieving family whose loved one’s death saved Roman’s life.
“We’re so happy he got one, but someone had to die for that to happen.”
Roman was one of 1713 people whose lives were saved last year because of organ donations.
Organs from 503 deceased donors found new homes inside people in need, almost twice the total from eight years ago.
Register to be an organ donor at http://www.donatelife.gov.au/decide.