THE life of a York toddler has been saved after his grandfather came to the rescue by donating part of his liver.

Owen Targett has suffered from a rare and potentially fatal liver disease since birth and his family was forced to endure more agony when three donated organs proved unsuitable at the last minute.

The failure to find a new liver meant the 14-month old from Naburn could have died at any time, but now he has been given a new lease of life after his grandfather John Targett, who lives in Kent, stepped in.

A fifth of the 59-year-old’s liver was removed and transplanted to Owen, who was struck down with biliary atresia, an illness which causes irreversible liver damage, during a double operation at Leeds General Infirmary in November.

“Without the transplant, Owen might not be here now and he would definitely not have survived until this time next year because his liver would not have gone this distance,” said his mother Fleur.

“When the other livers proved unsuitable, we started looking for other options and John discussed it with doctors and decided to see how far we could go. He has saved Owen’s life.

“There are no words to describe what John has done. He is amazing and we love him so much – he is our hero.”

Fleur and her husband James, who is John’s son, say Owen is now unrecognisable from the toddler of several months ago, with his mother saying: “He is doing fantastically well and is so mobile. “Before the operation, he could only walk for five or six steps, but now he can get all around the house and go wherever he wants, and he smiles all the time. He is just so full of energy.”

And Fleur also said the family’s experience drives home the importance of The Press’ Lifesavers campaign, launched with the aim of recruiting thousands of new donors in our circulation area. “It must be so hard for people to talk to their families about organ donation, but it’s absolutely essential,” she said.

“We know people whose children have not survived because of a lack of donors, so we fully support the Lifesavers campaign.”