Party to celebrate first anniversary of miracle girl's life-saving treatment

A little miracle girl was given a party to celebrate the first anniversary the multiple-organ transplant that saved her life.

Tilly Rae Rhodes underwent life-saving transplant anniversary in 2020
Tilly Rae Rhodes underwent life-saving transplant anniversary in 2020

Eight year-old Tilly Rae Rhodes lapped up being the centre of attention at the Tilly Rae Fest in Newport on Thursday.

"We had a really good day, well above our expectations," said tired mum Jodie at home in Lillehsall the day after the exhausting fundraiser.

"The main thing about it was to give everyone a good day but we think we raised a lot of money for charity at the same time.

Having a go on the drums

"I don't know if I'll be organising it again - people have been asking me, but come back in a couple of months's time."

Newport Rugby Club, in Forton Road, was turned over to the free-to-enter event with a variety of stalls, activities such as bouncy castles, and a bar.

"We were surprised with the number of people who came along," said Jodie, who is joint manager at Priorslee Pre-School who is looking forward to returning to work after shielding for two years as her daughter received treatment.

Plenty of families turned out in support

Dad Tony, a fire-fighter, has recently returned to work with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service based in Telford.

And next week is due to be a big step for Tilly herself as she is due to return to school.

"She's not looking forward to it, after two years off!" said Jodie.

Pc Sumara, three-year-old Arlo Macleod, Jenson Macleod, aged six, and Pc Hughes at the festival

After being diagnosed with stage four liver cancer in January 2020 Tilly underwent months of treatment, including a multiple-organ transplant and chemotherapy – all while she and her family had to shield due to the pandemic.

Chemotherapy broke up the cancer but sent it into some of her veins – meaning she required a bowel transplant as well.

After the operation the surgeon updated Jodie and Tony on how it had gone – explaining that Tilly’s liver, large and small bowel, stomach, oesophagus, and pancreas had been replaced, while her spleen was also removed.

Six-year-old Emmie MacDonald from Market Drayton had a go at the archery

The operation is the only of its kind to be carried out on a patient with Tilly’s illness in the UK, and only the fourth in the world.

But the chemotherapy destroyed her immune system, making her incredibly vulnerable to illnesses, including coronavirus. She still has to be very careful, but mum Jodie says her classmates all know what the situation is.

Jodie said she was full of pride for the way Tilly, and her 15-year-old sister Tia had coped with the past 20 months.

She said: “She has dealt with it so well. Better than I have. And her sister, she has been amazing, she’s been a rock through it all.”

To find out more about Tilly’s fundraising efforts visit shopwithtilly.com/ or the Facebook page TillyRae Merch.

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