I came so close to getting life-saving transplant

LAST week I received a call that could potentially change my life for ever, a call that I had been waiting 10 months for.

Loading Comments
Share
Print
Anders Gibson
Anders Gibson

The transplant co-ordinator at the Newcastle Freeman Hospital, where lung transplants for Scottish patients are carried out, said they had found suitable lungs for me.

I am 35 and have cystic fibrosis, a condition that mainly affects the lungs and pancreas, causing continuous chest infections and the inability to digest food properly.

The constant chest infections have damaged my lungs so much now that my right lung has completely collapsed and my left lung is scarred. The only remaining treatment for me is a lung transplant.

My lungs don't have long left and so, to maintain what health I have, I take up to 50 pills a days, inhale various nebulised drugs, carry out intravenous antibiotic injections, physiotherapy, feed over-night via a tube that goes down my nose and into my stomach and am on oxygen at least 16 hours a day.

My treatment takes up hours of my day and, while every day is like groundhog day, I do all this treatment to hang on to the possibility that one day I'll have new lungs and the chance to live my life.

The call came at 12.50am.

I was told they were considering me for lungs and they would have to see how further tests on the donated lungs went before a decision could be made regarding their suitability for me. I was told they wouldn't have any results for a few hours and so just to relax and, if I could, go back to sleep. One thing I couldn't do after that call was go back to sleep.

This was it, this was the call I had been waiting for. I composed myself and phoned close family and friends to tell them that I may be going to Newcastle for a transplant.

I heard nothing for hours, then after I had given up hope of getting new lungs I received a call, at 5am.

The transplant co-ordinator said: "I've sent an ambulance. These lungs are for you!"

After a while of being on the waiting list you wonder if the transplant team have forgotten about you.

They haven't, there is just a shortage of organs available. You think to yourself, 'maybe I will have a longer wait than most, I hope I can hold out'.

I am only too aware that 40% of people with cystic fibrosis die waiting for a transplant. I've always remained positive and so I have always believed I will be in that 60% that makes it, but the statistics don't lie and sometimes you wonder if your call will come.

To increase my chances of receiving a lung transplant I have said I would be willing to take lungs from ex-smokers, from older people and those deemed higher risk.

THERE is nothing to say I will ever get that lung transplant, but I have to do everything I can to get one.

There are greater risks through taking what are deemed 'riskier' lungs, but all lungs are better than the dying ones I have now, and it is better to take that chance and get a lung transplant than to never have the opportunity.

I am determined to live.

The ambulance arrived, the siren and blue light were switched on and off to Newcastle we went.

I travelled with my friend Elaine in the ambulance. My family drove there separately and we all met at the transplant centre at around 8.30am.

I had various tests done before I could go to theatre including blood tests and an x-ray.

The donated lungs also required tests before they could be transplanted.

It wasn't until 1pm that they said the lungs were good and that the transplant would be going ahead within the hour.

Prior to transplant they give you a special medical cleaning agent to shower with and the usual NHS backless gown to wear.

While showering and cleaning my chest area, the area where they make the incision, I realised the next time I could be in this situation I would no longer have my lungs in me. I also realised there was no turning back, I was going through with the operation.

I gave up work a few years ago to concentrate on my health to give me this chance.

All the hard work my cystic fibrosis team at Gartnavel and my own grind was coming to a point, this is what I had been working towards, the chance of a life.

I returned to the room and waited for the doctor and the team to come in and wheel me down to theatre.

The doctor came in, but it soon became apparent that today was not to be my day.

My blood results showed an infection so they couldn't carry out the transplant.

If they had carried it out, there was a good chance I wouldn't come through the operation as my new lungs would get infected and potentially fail.

I WASN'T too down-hearted - it is the nature of lung transplants that there are false alarms.

Sometimes lungs aren't good for transplant, sometimes the patient isn't well enough for the transplant, as was the case here.

Doctors have to weigh up the risk and you have to trust the doctors, and I do. I was going to live to fight another day.

So back to groundhog day, the struggle to keep well, the battle every day to keep myself going for that bit longer so I can get another call and the lungs I need. To be honest, I hope I don't have many false calls as it is stressful, scary and overwhelming.

While I didn't get my lungs this time, I learned a lot about the support I have and my family and friends willing me for that chance of a new life.

It was an emotional day, not just for me, but for everyone there.

My brother Stefan was exceptional support throughout what was a long and arduous day, as was Elaine and my mum and dad.

While waiting for the transplant to go ahead Stefan said: "We'll climb Goat Fell after this."

That's one thing I could only dream of doing right now, but I hope one day I can make that dream come true and maybe even beat my brothers to the top.

Not only that, I will have my life back and a future.

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.

151519

Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
A weekly round up of social highlights

A weekly round up of social highlights

Cat's Eyes on Glasgow

James needs a sit down and Edward Scissorhands pierces my heart.

Times Out

Entertainment

Lifestyle

TV Advert
Gail’s Gab

Gail’s Gab

Gail Sheridan is a mother-of-one and wife to Tommy and she likes to get political with the hot topic of the week in her column Gail’s Gab.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Sussed in the City

Take a bow Glasgow you’re the real star

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.