I have Cystic Fibrosis and on the 17th October 2011 a complete stranger donating her lungs and saved my life. I was born with Cystic Fibrosis and diagnosed at 3 weeks old.
Throughout my childhood I struggled to maintain a lung function of no more than 50%. I required 8 to 12 weekly intravenous antibiotics just to keep me breathing. By the time I was 14 my lung function was into the mid 30s. I was never a ‘normal’ teenager. All my friends were going out and I was either stuck at home doing treatments or in hospital.
In February 2010 my consultant first mentioned transplant to me and my family. I shut down. I was scared and it was something I was prepared to talk about. At 16, during my GCSE exams and just a few weeks before my prom my left lung collapsed. I struggled with every breath and life was slipping away from me. I ended up in Intensive care, high dependency unit and a 3-week stay in hospital. The day I went home I was rushed back into hospital with my left lung collapsed again. Again I was in intensive care, high dependency unit and this time surgery to stop my lung going down again. I was in hospital another 2 weeks totalling 5 weeks. It was the hardest time in my life. I missed my final exams and my prom. There was nothing more devastating at the time. After my lung collapsed my lung function was 26% and at this point I knew I had no quality of life and transplant was the route I would need to take.
What followed this was a hard summer that has moulded me into the person I am today. A friend of mine who also had CF was only 12 and she passed away after also needing new lungs. This affected me beyond words. Soon after she passed I was rushed into hospital where I required oxygen. I then went for my transplant assessment where I was told I would be a good candidate for new lungs. On the 23rd December 2010 I was placed on the active transplant list. During my time on the list I relied more and more on my family to take care of me. I was only able to attend 6th form 1 day a week. I lived my life on the sofa struggling to breathe. I needed knew lungs to survive. I waited 10 months on the transplant list. At 1:15am on the 17th October the phone rang. I was told there is a possibility of new lungs and would I like them. It wasn’t until 14:30 that I was rolled down to surgery. The scariest thing I have ever faced. I spent 3 weeks in hospital bouncing back to my old self. Everything I was doing in life was becoming easier and easier.
4 years later I am in the best of health I have ever been in. I have completed a extended diploma at college and now I’m into my 2nd year at university having moved out from home and gaining the independence back of a normal person my age. I could imagine life 4 years ago when I had no life. Everything was passing me by and now I have the world at my feet. I plan to make every second count in my life.
My life wouldn’t be life it is if it wasn’t thanks to my donor and her family. She had signed the organ donor register and her family followed through with her wishes. She is my angel in the sky. Thanks will never be enough but I’m hoping that wherever she may be she is proud of what I am doing.