Healesville boy becomes a healthy man with a new liver he got 30 years ago

Ben and his wife Yang Juan with their dog. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Dongyun Kwon

On 17 April 1994, a Healesville boy had an operation to transplant a liver to him.

Ben Lancaster was born with a liver disease called Biliary Atresia and received a new liver at the age of five at Austin Hospital.

It’s been 30 years and the boy has grown into a healthy man.

Ben’s dad John Lancaster said he was “devastated” when he first noticed his son was born with the disease.

“Ben’s doing fantastic. He turned out to be a very good young man,” John said.

“Everything now is going really well for him and we’re pleased to see him doing well.”

The transplant operation took 12 to 14 hours and Ben stayed in the emergency room for about a week having tubes coming out from everywhere.

Over a period of time, he went to a normal ward and started to get some rehab processes.

Ben said his liver is “good” now.

“I used to get checked every six months and now get checked once a year,” he said.

“My medication dosage is pretty low which is a good sign, but the doctor told me to lose a little bit of weight.”

Ben and his family grabbed a chance to travel to Canada when he was 10 through the wish-making by Starlight Children’s Foundation.

“We went to see my Grade 3 school teacher Janet Frey who was from Canada,” Ben said.

“We spent about a month in Canada.”

Ben and his family used to help raise donations for children with illnesses.

“It was probably because I got the wish and I wanted to help other children get the wishes as well,” Ben said.

“They could do whatever they wanted to depending on how sick they were [with the donations I collected].

“My mum and dad still do it and I occasionally do it, but we haven’t been as active as we used to be.”

The liver receiver is wondering if the donor has the same passion for cars as he does.

“I did hear he was a young 20-year-old who enjoyed motor vehicles as much as I do,” Ben said.

“I’ve never met the parents as well, so I’d eventually like to meet them one day, show them what my life has been and try to chat with them about their son.”

The dad said he wanted to meet the family of the donor.

“We’d just like to thank them for giving our son a chance of life,” John said.

Ben said he’d like to say to the children who are undergoing treatment “Don’t be afraid”.

“Especially, if they are young children, they could be scared of what’s going to happen,” he said.

“Just don’t be afraid to be who you want to be as you grow up and listen to your doctor.”