The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

‘Marble-ous’ idea helps young patients at Leeds Children’s Hospital celebrate their organ transplant

24 May 2019

The mum of a young liver transplant patient has teamed up with staff at Leeds Children’s Hospital to create an ‘end of treatment’ marble run to celebrate this important milestone for young patients.

The marble run has been set up by the team on Ward L50, who care for children and young people requiring liver or kidney transplants. Once a child has finished their treatment and is ready to go home, they get to place a coloured marble - yellow for liver, red for renal (kidney) - in the run.

Only a patient who is ready for discharge may place a marble in the run, which symbolises their successful transplant and will collect at the bottom of the track as a lasting message to future young patients - “you are not alone.”

The idea came from Staff Nurse Megan Rees, who wanted something special for young patients to look forward to and that celebrates the fact they have had their transplant and are ready to get on in life.

Megan said: “A lot of people suggested we shout about the number of transplants we do and how amazing the children are who go through this. I came up with the idea for children to pick a marble that they place into the run on their discharge day as a celebration of how brave they have been and how far they’ve come. The marble stays in the box as a legacy for the patient and for children coming onto the ward.”
Marble run 2 s

Children like five year-old Imogen, who received the gift of a new liver in December last year. Imogen and her Mum Alex are from the Wirral, Merseyside, and travelled to Leeds Children’s Hospital for this crucial procedure.

Mum Alex said: “When Imogen was born she was diagnosed with a condition called Biliary Atresia, a chronic liver disease. In October 2018 Imogen turned yellow and after taking her to hospital it was clear she needed a new liver. She was listed and received her new liver in December that year.”

Alex wanted to say thank you to the ward in a meaningful way, and after hearing about Megan’s idea, decided to help set up the marble run for young patients like Imogen.

She said: “Oncology has the End of Treatment Bell for patients finishing radiotherapy, so it was nice to be able to give something to children finishing a transplant that they can now use to mark this big milestone and celebrate the end of their journey.”

So far the marble run has seen twenty young patients mark their symbolic end of treatment, but the box is also filled with marbles representing past patients whose transplants have not been recorded in this way - more than 700 children and young people.

Megan said: “I really hope that when children, siblings and parents see these celebrations shared on social media and in person, they can look forward to this moment as the end of their journey and also realise that transplant is not as scary as it sounds. We have had many children who have come through this treatment and these marbles also tell their stories of success.”

Alex agreed, saying: “It’s been the end of a long hard journey. The marble run is something that symbolises what children like Imogen have been through and is something for them to look forward to. Imogen really loved doing it, it was very emotional and meant a lot to us - it’s my hope that other children and their families will get just as much out of it.”