'I am one of the lucky ones'
When Diane collapsed, she never imagined that when she woke up she would have someone else's liver inside her! I wrote her story for Take a Break magazine, about how she suffered with acute cellular rejection. - There is a national shortage of organ donors within the BAME community but Diane was one of the lucky ones.
"After a busy weekend, I couldn’t wait to get into bed. Then I caught sight of my reflection in the bathroom mirror and noticed the whites of my eyes were yellow.
‘Look,’ I said to my husband Ian.
‘Bloody hell, what’s wrong with them?’ he said. ‘You need to make a doctor’s appointment.’
Next morning, I went to see my GP who took some blood tests.
‘It might be a problem with your gallbladder,’ he said.
Later that week, I was at the hospital where I worked as a nurse when I got chatting to one of my colleagues who was a doctor.
He was very concerned.
‘Let’s get you examined,’ he said.
He sent me for ultrasound and MRI scans, and further blood tests showed there was something wrong with my liver. It was holding iron, but there didn’t seem to be anything too seriously wrong.
Days later, I was transferred to one hospital and then another, where I was given daily blood tests, scans of my liver, X-rays and several biopsies.
On Christmas Eve I was allowed home and spent the next day with Ian, our two sons, Ashley, then 24, and Tyler, 21, and family.
Everyone was so worried that no one was in the mood to eat Christmas dinner. Instead they rallied around to look after me, but I was so tired that all I really did was sleep.
Two days later, I was back in hospital being monitored, with doctors trying to get to the bottom of the problem.
Then on New Year’s Eve, I went to the toilet and suddenly everything went black…
The next thing I knew, I woke up lying in a hospital bed attached to various tubes and machines, surrounded by my family.
‘What’s going on?’ I said.
‘You had an emergency liver transplant this morning,’ the surgeon said. ‘You’ve been unconscious for five days.’
I was gobsmacked.
He explained that a nurse had found me in the toilets where I had collapsed, and I was unable to stand or walk properly.
It was discovered I had Acute Cellular Rejection - my body was rejecting my own liver - and my condition had been critical.
I’d been placed on the ‘super urgent transplant list’ and my family were told if a donor wasn’t found soon, I would die.
One liver donor was found but it was too large, but thankfully the second was a good match.
I gazed at the anxious faces around me, unable to believe what had happened to me.
Now I am back to full health and I am so grateful to the medical teams who helped save my life.
The gift of a transplant has allowed me to continue my job within the NHS, helping people who are going through exactly what I experienced.
Unfortunately, I know only too well that it isn’t always a happy ending for people needing an organ donor, especially those who are black, Asian and from minority ethnic groups.
I want to thank the family who donated their loved one’s liver. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today."
BAME ORGAN DONATION
There is a national shortage of organs within the BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) Community and NHS Blood and Transplant are funding a call-out to try and increase organ donation rates.
It follows figures that show 21% of people who died on the waiting list last year were from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
Although many BAME patients are able to receive a transplant from a white donor, patients wait longer for an organ and others may die if there is no donor from their own community.
‘Be A Hero’ is a campaign to raise awareness of organ donation within Yorkshire. To add your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit: leedsth.nhs.uk/beahero