Teenage transplant patient thanks ambulance crew after life-saving trip to London

22 February 2018

A teenager has been reunited with the Thirsk ambulance crew who rushed him to London for a life-saving liver transplant.

Conor Rowlands, from Huby near Easingwold, visited Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Dave Gardner and Emergency Medical Technician Hannah Duffield on Wednesday 7 March – just days before his 18th birthday and the first anniversary of his transplant. He was accompanied by his mum, Elaine Hildrick, and they thanked their heroes with cards and gifts.

In a heartfelt message, they said: “How do you say thank you for saving a life? Thanks for going above and beyond and getting him to London in time for his life-saving surgery. His life can now begin – instead of us saying goodbye. Thanks a million.”

Dave and Hannah were nine-and-a-half hours into their night shift when they got a call at 3.30am to take Conor to King’s College Hospital – a journey that took them just over four hours.

His new liver was donated by an 11-year-old girl and he had the transplant that morning.

It was the end of a long and painful wait for Conor, who had been diagnosed with a cryptogenic liver disease and went on the transplant list when he was 15 years old.

After their emergency dash, Dave and Hannah had some much-needed rest in London, before finally returning to Thirsk Ambulance Station for the end of what had become a 26-and-a-half hour shift.

During their reunion, Conor told them: “I couldn't really be happier. I mean, what more can you ask for than life? Thanks very much for going above and beyond the call of duty and taking me to London. You don't do it for a reward or sympathy, you do it because you enjoy helping people. I can't thank you enough.”

Looking back at the events of the last year, Elaine said: “When we got the call about Conor's transplant, I felt sick, but knew he needed it and he took it in his stride.

“He now feels better and has loads of energy. It’s just lovely to have a happy teenager. We’re so thankful to the donor family that he can live again.”

The reunion was a very proud moment for Dave and Hannah, because ambulance crews rarely find out what happens to their patients after they take them to hospital.

Dave said: “It's definitely the longest shift I have ever worked! But Conor got his liver transplant and that's all that matters. It was great to see him again and looking so well.”

Within four weeks of leaving hospital, Conor was back on the road learning to drive and soon passed both his driving and motorbike tests. After eight weeks, he returned to his apprenticeship at City of York Council, and is now planning to become a mechanic.

Following his experience, Conor is encouraging everyone to sign up as an organ donor. More information is available at www.organdonation.nhs.uk

Produced by: Corporate Communications Department