Felix Alderson is set to undergo life-saving surgery today after his great aunt came to his rescue.

The Whangamata one-year-old was diagnosed with biliary atresia when he was six-weeks- old but after countless hospital visits and tests, his great aunt has been confirmed as a matching liver donor.

The duo is set to have surgery today, to undergo the vital liver transplant.

Felix was born with the illness which meant his bile ducts were not properly formed, so the bile could not drain into the intestine.


Instead it built up in his liver, causing irreversible damage.

Felix's parents, Paul and Tammy Alderson, said various family members had undergone tests for liver compatibility to no avail - until last week when Felix was admitted to Waikato Hospital, and later Starship, after a severe oesophageal bleed, with another two occurring later in the week.

Last week they got the news that Mr Alderson's aunt Conny, who lives in Auckland, had a matching liver.

With Felix's condition not improving, a decision was made to operate as soon as possible.

Mrs Alderson said on Tuesday there was a slim chance the operation might not go ahead.

"If the surgeons find anything wrong with Conny's liver, or if she's got a fatty liver, for instance, they won't be able to go ahead."

The family would then go back on the waiting list for a suitable donor.

"If it's all good, she will undergo a three to four-hour operation.

"It's a really nerve-wracking time for us. We're all feeling nervous but are determined to look on everything positively."

Mr and Mrs Alderson were staying at Ronald McDonald House and sleeping in shifts so one or the other was always with Felix. Other family members and relatives are also in Auckland helping in whatever way they can.

"We're just so blown away with everything people have done for us. Thank you all so much."

Conny was due to go to theatre at 8am today and Felix about 10am if his aunty's liver is found to be suitable for transplantation.

"Two surgical teams will be working for 12 to 14 hours to complete the transplant.

"They're the best in New Zealand. They say the 48 hours following the operation will be the most crucial," Mrs Alderson said.

Meanwhile, the Whangamata community has banded around the family and various fundraising initiatives have raised about $22,000 of the $50,000 the family needs. The money is to cover the costs of paying extra staff to operate the Aldersons' business, Argo Restaurant and Wine Bar and to compensate Conny, who will be off work for three months recuperating from the operation.