The mother of a 4-year-old liver transplant patient has described the amazing moment her baby son got a second chance at life.

Byson Bennett, from Christchurch, badly needed a new liver from the time he was 18 months old but he couldn't have one so instead his family were told to say their goodbyes.

His mother Jasmine Bennett remembers the heartache of finding out she might lose her youngest child like it was yesterday.

"We went to Auckland and we were told he couldn't go on the transplant list because the doctors didn't know if giving him a new liver would make him live another five years, and that was part of the criteria," Bennett said.

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"We were told to have his second birthday early because he wouldn't make it.

"I still remember the hardest part of being told to go home was knowing that I could lose my son."

Byson, centre, with his brother Julius, left and sister Oceanah. Photo / Jasmine Bennett
Byson, centre, with his brother Julius, left and sister Oceanah. Photo / Jasmine Bennett

Byson survived past his birthday and continued to exceed doctors' expectations.

And in May 2015 the family got a phone call to say the criteria had changed and baby Byson could go on the list for a new liver.

Bennett was over the moon and offered part of her own liver to her son.

Byson was denied a liver transplant when he was 18 months old. Photo / Jasmine Bennett
Byson was denied a liver transplant when he was 18 months old. Photo / Jasmine Bennett

"I had a few tests and then I was told it wouldn't work - it was heartbreaking," she said.

The mother-of-three said the family then waited seven months for a phone call that would change Byson's life forever.

"It came on December 27 at 3am. We were told there was a liver for Byson and we had to be on a plane to Auckland in two hours," she said.

"We were in so much shock but we jumped out of bed, woke up the kids and made it to the airport just in time to get on the plane."

Byson was struggling with ill health the Christmas before his transplant. Photo / Jasmine Bennett
Byson was struggling with ill health the Christmas before his transplant. Photo / Jasmine Bennett

By the time the family "got the call" Byson had turned a dark shade of yellow as he was suffering from severe jaundice because his liver couldn't do the job it needed to do.

Just 23 hours after Bennett had been woken by the life-saving phone call, Byson was being wheeled out of the operating room at Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital.

He has now had his new liver for just over 12 months and his quality of life improves every day.

"He must have been in a lot of pain before - because he is developing a lot more quickly now,' his mother said.

"He is rolling over, he sings, he talks and he plays with his brother and sister."

His liver transplant has given Byson much more energy. Photo / Jasmine Bennett
His liver transplant has given Byson much more energy. Photo / Jasmine Bennett

Byson also has hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, and still relies on Bennett to be tube fed, but is much more independent than he used to be.

"The liver has taken really well - we haven't had any problems yet," she said.
"He is more active now and has so much more energy."

Not much is known about his brain condition so the busy mum says she just has to "wait and see" as far as his development goes.

"We do know that he shouldn't need another liver transplant which is great," she said.

Byson turns 5 on Friday - an amazing achievement for a boy who "wasn't going to make it to his second birthday", his proud mother said.

Byson is doing more things independently. Photo / Jasmine Bennett
Byson is doing more things independently. Photo / Jasmine Bennett