Brave Sophie loses liver disease battle

A FORMER Portishead schoolgirl has lost her battle with liver disease after a suitable organ donor could not be found in time to save her.

Sophie Thatcher knew a liver transplant was her only chance of survival when she became unwell in December. She was admitted to Kings College Hospital in London on Christmas Eve, but a suitable organ could not be found and the 12-year-old died on January 15.

Sophie’s family is now appealing for more people to carry organ donor cards so others can avoid the heartache they are suffering.

Sophie, who attended St Peter’s Primary School, was born with the rare liver disease, biliary atresia, where bile builds up in the liver and poisons it.

She received her first liver transplant at the age of 14 months when she was given a part of her dad’s liver and this allowed her to lead a near-normal life for 10 years.

In 2009, test results suggested problems were beginning to occur with Sophie’s liver again and she was put on the waiting list for a new transplant.

Mum Sharon said: “Sophie knew how ill she was toward the end but kept a smile on her face throughout.

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“She was adamant if she did not make it, we should continue to campaign for families to talk about organ donation and actively encourage more people to carry donor cards.”

In June, Sophie organised a Big Yellow Monday at St Peter’s Primary School, when everyone wore yellow and made a donation to the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, the organisation that has worked closely with the Thatcher family throughout Sophie’s life.

Sharon added: “We knew Sophie may get poorly again and so we always made the best of every day and made sure we found something to make her smile.

“She was a happy, positive child who always thought of others despite her own ill health.”

St Peter’s Primary School headteacher Sharon Roberts said: “Sophie was a very kind and thoughtful person. We are proud of the way she organised the Yellow Monday and explained to others students about liver disease in children.”

The Thatcher family moved to Weston in July and in September Sophie enrolled at Wyvern Community School making new friends but staying in touch with her Portishead pals.

St Peter’s Primary School will hold a special assembly on February 2 at 3.30pm. Year seven pupils and their families who knew Sophie are invited to attend.

Sophie’s funeral will be held at Christ Church in Montpelier, Weston, on February 3. Her family hopes it will be a celebration of Sophie’s life and achievements.

After the funeral, at around 4pm, friends and family will be releasing balloons from Weston’s Grand Pier in Sophie’s memory.

To find out more about the organ donor scheme visit or call the 24 hour hotline on 0845 6060 400.