Teenager meets the hero fireman who ran into burning plane to grab his new liver after crash as organ was being dashed to hospital
Rescued liver helped Kate survive for a year, but she now needs another organ
A teenager who received a donor liver rescued from a plane crash has come face to face with the hero firefighter who ran into the burning jet to retrieve it.
Kate Trevener, from Birmingham, was hours from death when a private Cessna carrying the organ from Belfast crashed at Birmingham Airport in thick fog.
But firefighter Nick Jordan came to the rescue, freeing the pilot from the burning cockpit before returning to retrieve the donor organ.
Destroyed: The Cessna on the runway at Birmingham Airport after the crash in November
My hero: Nick Jordan (left) met Kate (right) for the first time a year after he saved her liver from plane wreckage
Fashion student Kate was given a
chance to live when she had the life-saving operation at Queen Elizabeth
Hospital two days before her 18th birthday.
And despite her body later rejecting
the organ, she remains determined to keep fighting her rare condition of
acute liver failure – and is now facing her THIRD transplant.
Now more than a year after the runway crash, Kate and her family met Nick and the fire-fighting team at Birmingham Airport.
Kate, now aged 19, told the Birmingham Mail: 'I’d been in contact with Nick on email but this was the first time I got to meet him in person which was great. It was really weird to go the airport, be shown round and be told what happened that day.
'I was desperately waiting for the transplant and my family had been told to say goodbye. It was quite overwhelming and emotional.
'But it was great to finally meet Nick and say thank you in person for what he did. He is a hero – without that liver I wouldn’t have had a chance to live.'
Charred wreck: Miraculously, the liver was not harmed despite the Cessna being destroyed
Nick described the “surreal” moment he plucked the liver from the wreckage of the plane in November 2010.
He said: 'Once everyone was out of the plane it was a case of get in there and have a look around.
'There was this box at the side, a picnic box. When I was told it was a donor liver I didn’t really comprehend the importance of it. I just picked it up.'
Nick, aged 42 and a firefighter at Birmingham Airport for 11 years, first had contact with Kate when he was nominated for a Pride of Britain Award.
He said: 'I’d never seen or spoken to Kate before, but I wanted her and her family to come and meet the watch. We showed her some of the pictures of the aircraft and said it was a miracle that anything survived. Her mum was sitting there telling us the story about when Kate’s liver started to fail and they were told to say their goodbyes.
'I just sat there and said, ‘You are calling us brave for rescuing a liver’ We were just doing our jobs.
'I feel embarrassed being called brave when they have gone through that.'
Kate Trevener is hoping to have a third liver transplant
Recalling the events leading up to the crash, Nick said: 'It was a clear day then the tannoy sounded a warning of low visibility. Suddenly it was like a wall of fog down the runway.
'Everything went completely white and then a couple of minutes later the alarm sounded indicating there had been an accident on the runway.
'We looked out and couldn’t see anything but above the fog appeared a plume of smoke.
'We drove down the runway as slowly as possible because we couldn’t see anything and we didn’t want to run anybody over. We couldn’t find the aircraft then saw flames flickering on the grass. We drove over and that’s where we saw the aircraft.
'We didn’t know how many people were on board or anything but the co-pilot was standing there.
'I asked, “Is anybody else on board” and he said “A donor”. He probably said a donor liver but I don’t remember.
'I asked if there was anybody else He said, “Yes the pilot,” so that was the priority, to get him out. He came out first and then I ran back in for the liver.
'But it was just a job, I do what I’m paid to do.'
Supportive: Kate Trevener pictured with parents Tracey and Mike and her sister Annabel earlier last year
Nick added: 'If ever people wanted to know about organ donation, they only have to look at Kate and her family, to know how important it is. They are the best advert.
'Kate’s mum wrote a thank you card to us all and her dad wrote a letter just to me. It was so moving, and at the end of it, he just said, “From one dad to another, thanks for saving my daughter’s life”.
'There’s nothing more you can say to that.'
Eight days after the transplant the liver died in Kate’s body, leaving her devastated family fearing the worst.
But another donor was found and the brave teen underwent a second life-saving operation with an organ that also had to be flown in – despite that flight almost being cancelled due to snow. Yet that liver is now also failing and the battling teenager is now facing her third transplant.
Kate said: 'Even though the first liver from the crash did not work, it kept me alive and gave me a chance to get this far.'