Laura, who was born with alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency has just celebrated the 30th anniversary of her liver transplant. Here is her story.
I was five years old when I received my transplant at Kings College Hospital in London. As I was so young, I don’t remember much from before my transplant. I do know that I had been on the waiting list for about six months and was on holiday with my family when the pager that my parents carried around with them suddenly went off and alerted them that a donor match had been found for me. We were very quickly whisked off into an ambulance up to London.
My memories are more of after my surgery, when lots of my family and friends came to visit me in the hospital. I remember lots of phone calls to my family back home especially to my grandparents and brother who was living with them while myself and my parents stayed in London with me.
A while after my transplant, we were able to find out who my donor was and about their family. Letters and cards were sent back and forth from both families via the hospital especially at Christmas, and on my transplant anniversaries. They always appreciated updates from my parents and photos of me and said in many letters that they were glad they chose to donate their child’s organs and were so pleased to see me happy and healthy.
Every year when my anniversary comes around we as a family think about my donor family and are so thankful of the difficult decision they made.
I was very lucky that my transplant was a success and I do have happy memories of the things I was able to do afterwards. For example we were very lucky to be gifted a holiday to Disneyland by the Starlight Foundation, together with some other families that had gone through transplants. I also took part in the British Transplant Games in Cardiff and Liverpool and managed to win gold in Cardiff in the 50 metre dash and silver for the same event the following year in Liverpool.
My parents had received information and support from CLDF and I remember designing a Christmas card that was sold in the CLDF Christmas card brochure.
As a child I had lots of check-ups at Kings College hospital so I got to know the staff very well. Now my care has moved closer to home, and I see my consultant at my local hospital every six months and my liver is still closely monitored.
Apart from attending these appointments, my life is no different to anyone else’s. I live with my partner Dan and our five year old son Noah. I am so lucky to be able to have my son, he is my absolute world. I have always worked in childcare and since returning to work after having Noah I now work part time in a pre-school.
This year is my liver’s 30th anniversary and I thought a raffle to raise money for CLDF would be a great way to celebrate this massive milestone and raise awareness of childhood liver disease and organ donation. I drew the raffle at a family celebration in September. I had originally set a target of £100 but everyone was so generous with their support in terms of ticket sales and donating prizes that I raised over £700 which I’m really proud about.
The message I would like to give is that organ donation is really important and can save lives. Without it, I wouldn’t be here today and I will forever be grateful to my donor’s family for making that choice to donate.