Glasgow man waits by the phone for news on lung transplant

WHEN I was 14 years old my doctor told me that a cure for my condition would not come in time for me.

Loading Comments
Share
Print
Anders Gibson takes an array of medication every day
Anders Gibson takes an array of medication every day

A hard thing for anyone to hear, but for a young, optimistic teenager it was particularly difficult.

Unfortunately 20 years later the prophetic words of my doctor remain true, but that doesn't mean there isn't space for optimism.

In fact, from that meeting I knew there was only one real hope for me – a lung transplant.

I have a condition called cystic fibrosis. One in every 2000 babies born in Scotland is born with this condition.

It primarily affects the lungs, but also the pancreas and it is also associated with liver disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.

My parents were told I would be fortunate to see school age.

Yet here I am at 34 having worked, gained two degrees and exceeding early expectations.

I am fortunate in that my life growing up has coincided with a greater understanding of CF and better treatments, alongside a family that have encouraged sport throughout my life and ensured that I took my pills and have taken the various treatments.

However, this battle with cystic fibrosis is potentially approaching the finishing line.

My lungs are so damaged now and my lung function so poor that I have now been referred for a lung transplant.

I am now at a point where I have the potential of a life changing operation and the possibility to live as my peers do.

At present I need oxygen at least 15 hours a day, I take close to 50 pills a day, I spend hours every day doing treatment, from passing a tube down my nose daily to feed, to intensive physiotherapy to help bring up the thick sticky mucus.

In recent weeks I lost my right lung due to a irreversible lung collapse and it is becoming more of a struggle to get about and maintain a quality of life.

So I wait day by day for that call to come from the transplant team, the call that would take me down to Newcastle Freemans hospital where they do the lung transplants for Scottish patients.

In fact it was at the Freemans hospital I was assessed for a lung transplant, a process that is an emotional rollercoaster as the reality of your situation is spelled out.

It was in some ways the worst of all interviews, a five-day process that had more reality to it that any X Factor boot camp, with the ultimate prize being the chance of life. Is there a bigger prize?

Lung transplants are one of the more complicated organ transplants. There are numerous factors that need to be taken into consideration when matching lungs to an individual; size, blood type, tissue type and antibodies.

It is possible I may have a false call, in fact I know of people who have had numerous false calls.

The transplant team may have a suitable match, you travel down with all the mixed emotions of fear and hope, only to discover that the lungs that you hoped would change your life are not suitable due to damage or some other reason. You are then left waiting again for that call to come again.

AS anyone can imagine this is a risky operation, one that doesn't bring definite long-term results either.

New lungs could potentially change my life, returning to work, travelling and just engaging with the world as any 34-year-old should do. It may seem a no-brainer to go for the transplant, but I've been given a 80% chance of making it through the first year, that means 20% chance I'd be dead within the year, a statistic that doesn't fill with me joy.

However, in contrast there is a 50% chance of making 12 years and there are people who have 20+ years with new lungs. I have a determination to live and at the moment my dice is sitting on a 1 or a 2, so what's to lose?

Not only is there the issue of how I'll do once I get 'the call', but if I get 'the call'. At present 25% of those put on the lung transplant list die while waiting in the first year and only 60% of people with cystic fibrosis live long enough to receive a lung transplant.

These are all sad stat-istics, also very scary statistics for someone waiting for a transplant.

Only two months ago I lost one of my best friends who was waiting for a lung transplant, she'd been waiting almost a year. She was only 26, but her lungs couldn't hold out and infect-ions brought her chances of a new life to an end.

While organ donation rates have improved in recent times, there is still much room for increasing donor rates.

Improving donor rates requires education and improving understanding of the need for organ donation, but also allaying misconceptions and confronting the taboo that is death with our friends and family.

The best way to help increase the chances of people like me receiving a transplant is to increase the number of potential donors and the best way to do that is through an opt-out system alongside improved infrastructure for procuring organs.

I am delighted that Wales has taken the step towards the opt-out system. Not only does it move the discussion forward, but hopefully it will also help save lives, potentially even mine.

All going well, and if it works, Scotland will take the same step too.

In the meantime I will continue to wait by my phone, waiting for it to ring and the transplant coordinator to tell me they have found a match for me and they have lungs.

Maybe once that happens I'll be able to do as my doctor said and 'get on with living'.

ANDERS Gibson, from Glasgow, suffers from cystic fibrosis and is waiting for a lung transplant.

Figures show around a third of patients die on the waiting list because of donor shortages.

As National Transplant Week begins today the 34-year-old told CAROLINE WILSON what it's like to live in

hope of the call that could save his life

Health

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

129797

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
Games news:

Putting the world to rights

Gail's Gab

Wish you were here reader, I’m lapping up with sun with me in my bikini and Tommy in his 1980s style trunks

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat Cubie’s job is to find and share with you the fabulous things the city has to offer, from gigs to gastro.

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You Couldn't Make This Up

Ah the Glassgow banter, you just canne beat it.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Columnist Michelle McManus is Sussed in the City, and loves to chat about anything and everything.