TWENTY-ONE years ago, she was given the gift of life.
And Julie Maguire has marked the day she was given a life-saving liver transplant ever since.
It was a great trip, and I thought it was an appropriate place for a 21st birthday celebration.Julie Maguire
The 34-year-old, who grew up in Gosport but now lives in Hilsea, was given a new liver when she was 13 and every year she marks the day of the operation with a celebration.
This year, she celebrated her liver birthday with a trip to Las Vegas with her mum Margaret.
Julie said: ‘It was a great trip, and I thought it was an appropriate place for a 21st birthday celebration.
‘We did loads of shopping because it was a girly holiday.
‘It is the fourth time I have been but it was still amazing.
As previously reported in The News, Julie had been diagnosed with a rare condition called cryptogenic cirrhosis when she was 18 months old.
For an unknown reason, the condition causes tumours on the liver and the stomach to swell, and Julie also suffered from jaundice.
For Julie, a transplant was the only hope of life.
She added: ‘I always celebrate my liver birthday. I’m incredibly grateful.
‘The transplant gave me a new lease of life.
‘When I had the transplant I was told I had less than a week to live.
‘It gave me another chance at life and now the doctors tell me that my liver is as good as new.
‘I can now lead a normal life and it’s all thanks to my transplant.
‘It is so important that people become organ donors and I always encourage people to sign up.’
When Julie was diagnosed with the illness as a toddler, liver transplants for children were unheard of.
But by the time her condition deteriorated in 1995 and she was in urgent need of a donor, operations were available.
After an anxious wait following the surgery, she was given the all-clear two years later.
And now Julie is looking forward to the future.
She said: ‘I am moving to Spain with my fiance next month which I am really looking forward to.
‘It is all systems go at the moment, it is all really exciting.’