An Auckland woman is giving back to Starship Hospital six years after her daughter had a life-changing liver transplant there.

Helen Loader is competing in the half marathon event at the ASB Auckland Marathon and raising funds for the hospital where her daughter Danielle, who was born with liver disease in 2010, spent much of the first year of her life.

At just 6 months old Danielle's condition deteriorated and three months later doctors told her parents the only hope she had of getting better was a transplant.

So in 2011, 10 days before her first birthday her dad Wayne donated part of his liver to Danielle.

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The surgery was successful but Danielle was back in hospital for a second operation about six weeks later when one of the bile ducts in her liver became blocked.

After the surgery Danielle was in more pain then ever, Loader said, and seeing her child suffer was "pretty distressing".

"You can't do anything for her. She was only just 1 at that point and you can see she's in agony but there's nothing you can do to make her better."

Having to go backwards and forwards between the hospital and their home for the first 18 months of her daughter's life also took its toll.

"It was pretty stressful. You can never quite plan because you never really know whether you're going to be able to do stuff a week in advance because you might end up back in hospital," Loader told the Herald on Sunday.

"It's pretty hard. Lots of ups and downs you know."

But the staff at Starship made the stress a bit easier to bear.

"The doctors were amazing because they give you really good information to help you make good choices," Loader said.

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"The nurses are really supportive and just so friendly and welcoming. You generally end up in the same wards again so it's nice to see familiar faces."

Helen Loader (left) and daughter Danielle. Helen is running the Auckland Half Marathon to raise funds for Starship Hospital as Danielle had a lifesaving liver transplant there. Photo / Doug Sherring
Helen Loader (left) and daughter Danielle. Helen is running the Auckland Half Marathon to raise funds for Starship Hospital as Danielle had a lifesaving liver transplant there. Photo / Doug Sherring

Since the second surgery Danielle, now 7, has been a fairly healthy child.

"She's still pretty slight. She's small and quite slim so often people think she's probably only 6. But generally you wouldn't pick she'd been sick as a child now.

"She does jazz [dancing] lessons and swimming lessons. She loves colouring and art and she's got a really, really good imagination."

Danielle goes back to Starship every three months for a check-up and has annual ultrasound scans.

On October 29, Loader will power-walk the half marathon and hopes to raise $1000 for the hospital's renovations.

"It makes so much difference to your stay, just the area being so much nicer when it's freshly decorated. The rooms are such more user-friendly."

She raised $1000 for Starship when she competed in the race in 2015 and said it was a cause she would continue to support because of her experience there with Danielle.

"I think there's more people than you realise that actually use their services. There's so many people. They look after you so well and make you feel so welcome and they're so good with the kids and even siblings, and really supportive of the whole family."

To donate visit https://aucklandmarathon2017.everydayhero.com/nz/helen-1#.