Liver transplant recipients Bella Dyer, 11, and Amarli Allan, 6, will be competing in the World Transplant Games. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS
THEY’RE four years apart in age, but Bella Dyer and Amarli Allan share a bond that few others could understand.
Amarli, who will soon turn seven, received a liver transplant almost two years to the day after 11-year-old Bella, and both Launceston girls owe their lives to the families who agreed to donate.
They’ve been friends for more than four years, since their mothers bonded over their shared experience.
And at the end of this month they will travel together to compete against other organ recipients, living donors and donor families in their first Australian Transplant Games.
Bella’s mother, Lisa Dyer, said the games were an opportunity to celebrate the second chance given to her daughter, who faced total liver failure just over six years ago.
Mrs Dyer said Bella suffered a rare condition called biliary atresia, in which bile builds up and remains trapped in the liver, and destroys it over time.
She had no energy, was malnourished and had a distended stomach as she waited 18 months for a transplant. She received it at five years old.
‘‘We have written to the donor family anonymously to say thank you, but it’s really not a big enough word for what they’ve done for my daughter,’’ Mrs Dyer said.
Bella will compete in swimming, athletics, tenpin bowling and scrabble events – something Mrs Dyer said would have been possible before she received her liver.
Amarli’s mother, Tameka Lucas, said her daughter would also compete in athletics and tenpin bowling events.
She said that was no small thing for a girl who before her transplant four years ago couldn’t run, because her stomach had grown so large from liver failure.
‘‘These games are just something special for her, and they’re a chance for us to celebrate having her here,’’ Ms Lucas said.
Both women said they hoped that by participating, their ‘‘very, very lucky, fortunate girls’’ could also send a positive message about the importance of organ donation.
‘‘We need to get people out there to realise how important it is. One person can save 10 people, or more,’’ Mrs Dyer said.
The Australian Transplant Games will be held in Melbourne from September 26 to October 4. For more information on organ donation, visit www.donatelife.gov.au.