An Ashfield woman who has been given just a few years to live has told of her “agonising wait” for a donor so she can have life-saving lung surgery.
Former primary school teacher Sinead Anderson is making the heartfelt plea for people to back Sherwood Forest Hospitals’ organ donation campaign.
The 39-year-old, who lives with her husband Lee in Ashfield, is backing the campaign for more people to join the donor register.
She has lived with cystic fibrosis for 11 years.
However, with a course of 58 tablets she has to take each day, she has suffered severe damage to her pancreas and kidneys.
She has also suffered kidney failure and now, with the wait continuing for a lung donor, may only have two or three years to live.
The Unlucky 13
Patients across the Mansfield, Ashfield and Newark area are saved every few days thanks to people who have joined the organ donor register. More than 120 patients in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals area have received major organ donations for heart, lungs, liver, pancreas or kidney since 2013. However, during the same period, 13 patients died while waiting for an organ. At this moment, 36 people are still waiting for an organ.
Sinead, who has even been prepped for surgery five times, only for the operation to be called off, said: “When I was first diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in 1995, I was told I might reach 40. I just have to keep on hoping a suitable donor can be found while I am still well enough to undergo the operation.
“It’s emotionally gruelling. If a transplant ever happens, I have a lot of plans for me and my new lungs.”
Finding a suitable donor would also mean an end to her constant regime of tablets, inhalers and nebulisers to keep her condition under control.
The plea comes as King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton prepares its Second Chance campaign, offering visitors a tour of a giant pair of lungs, and to hear inspirational stories from people who have received life-saving transplants.
Coinciding with NHS Blood and Transplant’s national Organ Donation Week, the campaign is launched today.
Louise Scull, chairman of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Nationally, the theme is ‘turn an end into a beginning’ and, locally, our Second Chance campaign reflects that. We are also encouraging people to talk to their loved ones about their wish to donate organs.
“Often, in the understandable trauma of a sudden death, the next of kin are too upset to allow organ donation to go ahead, even though someone has signed up.”
To join the organ donation register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk and fill in your details.
Sinead Anderson worked as a primary school teacher until cystic fibrosis forced her to quit five years ago. Her lungs are deteriorating and
She says there are bad days and better days: “I’m largely housebound.
Retired soldier was a hero both in life and death
Mansfield man Peter Ploughman is one of the many amazing donors who have saved the lives of others.
He lived an exciting life, touring in Cyprus and Egypt with the Royal Engineers and was a family man with children and grandchildren. Aged 78, he suffered a painful headache in October 2011 which turned out to be a bleed on his brain. He was rushed to King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton, but the bleed was so severe neurosurgeons could do anything for him.
His son Paul, also of Mansfield, said: “The doctor and the nurse at King’s Mill were so kind. They kept us updated with everything that was happening, but they told us they could do no more for Peter and that he had suffered a devastating bleed and he wouldn’t survive. The organ donation nurse came to see us. She was very sympathetic and looked after us.
“We all knew what Peter would have wanted to do as he was a gentleman of high regard for his fellow man, but we thought at 78, he’d be too old.
“But the donor nurse explained that, because Peter was a strong and healthy man before the freak event which ended his life , donation may be possible and the family are pleased his kidneys, liver and corneas have since changed the lives of five people.
“It has helped us in our grieving for Peter, knowing he has left a lasting legacy.
“We hope sharing his story will dispel myths and that you cannot be too old to donate.
“Peter was a hero throughout.”
Double lung transplant patient given second chance
Debra Barlow, of Mansfield Woodhouse, underwent a double lung transplant in 2015.
After what started as a minor illness, she developed severe breathing difficulties and ended up spending months in hospital, either heavily sedated or in a drug-induced coma. She said: “My family was told on at least two occasions I wasn’t going to survive. I had contracted chicken pox pneumonia – my lungs were severely damaged and for the next nine years I was never far from an oxygen cylinder.”
Debra was first assessed in 2008 for a transplant, but doctors initially told her she “wasn’t poorly enough”.
She was finally added to the list in 2015 and, in November, was called to an operating theatre.
She said: “Eleven months on, here I am, breathing without the need for extra oxygen.
“My family, particularly my son Laeth, went through so much during my illness and I want to use this second chance to make the most of our future.”
But, Debra said, just as important as registering is discussing your wishes with family.
She said: “Often, during the difficult aftermath of a death relatives say no, even though their loved one is on the register. I have been given a second chance of life because a family were so generous in their grief. I just hope others can do the same.”
Mum struck down by everyday virus
Heart transplant patient Bronwyn Jones’s life changed overnight when she was suddenly disabled after a virus caused major heart failure.
The Skegby women was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy in July 2009, and her illness progressed until, 11 months later, her heart failed completely.
The married mum said: “I was a suitable candidate and was placed on the waiting list for a transplant.
“I was told I was number one on the list, because my need was so great.”
It can feel like a long time from being told an organ is available and the operation going ahead.
Doctors have to retrieve the organ and carry out tests to make sure it will give the patient the best chances of recovery and a long life after transplant.
And after the four-hour operation Brodwyn made an amazing recovery.
She was out of intensive care within four days and when she was released, she said life “never felt so good”.
She said: “I thought I was in heaven. After being stuck in a hospital for six weeks in all, the feel of warm sunshine on my face was wonderful.
“I constantly think about my donor. I have made contact with his family and now know a little about him and his life.
“I thank God every day for the wonderful gift of life that my donor gave me.
“Without him and his family, I would not be here today, my husband would be a widower and my children would have no mum.
“Ask yourself - if you or a loved one needed a new organ, would you accept it? If the answer is yes, then you really should agree to become a donor.”