A TRANSPLANT patient from Stratford says she has a new appreciation for life after a liver donor was found for her during the pandemic.
A new report has revealed some 160 people in the West Midlands received lifesaving organ transplants last year, despite challenges faced by the health sector during the pandemic.
Support for organ donations stayed strong during the crisis – with 46 people donating organs in the midst of tragedy – to the gratitude of those like Rebecca Vanni whose liver function fell to five per cent very suddenly around her birthday.
The 48-year-old was diagnosed with liver failure, caused by seronegative hepatitis – or inflammation of the liver. Within weeks, Rebecca was listed urgently for a transplant. Days later she received the surgery and was soon able to go home to her partner Kevin and daughter Elia.
Rebecca said: “It was a real shock to become so ill so quickly. I felt a bit rough, then I started going yellow. It took time to get diagnosed due to Covid then I was told I needed a transplant and had one within days. It’s hard to believe that can happen, especially with Covid
“I was worried about the doctors being tired and there being less chance of a transplant, but I felt very safe in hospital and everyone has been amazing.
“It was hard and difficult to get my head round and I couldn’t see my family through any of it until I’d my transplant and was recovering.”
The mum-of-one said the life-saving surgery had given her a new perspective on her everyday life.
She added: “We were also moving house during all this. I called Kevin and Elia before my transplant and they were building her new bed and I thought this might be it, I might never see Elia in her new room or see them again.
“Ten days after my surgery I went home to our new home. My quality of life is so much better than before the operation and I’ve got a life and I can do things.
“I appreciate things, the simple things, I’ve got to see my daughter celebrate her 18th birthday and pass her driving test. I’ve got a home with my partner Kevin after being a single parent for a long time and I’m back to work.
“I want to try and embrace life and be grateful for life, spending time as a family is the nicest thing. I’m doing a parachute jump to raise money for the British Liver Trust and I want to what I can to raise awareness and help other transplant patients.”
The recent change in the law in England and Scotland, means it will be assumed that people want to be a donor after death unless they register otherwise, although families will still be consulted before organ donation goes ahead.
The report also shows the number of people opting to be an organ donor after their death rose in 2020/21, and opt-in registrations on the NHS Organ Donor Register now stand at 26.7 million – with just 2million opting out of deceased organ donation.
It also revealed nearly 3,400 people across the UK had their lives saved thanks to 1,180 those donating their organs after death.
Rebecca added: “I think of my donor and their family every day, I’m very grateful for what they did. I cant imagine how Christmas and birthdays and holidays must be, they must miss them. It must have been hard during Covid, I hope they’re proud and take comfort from the lives saved.”
Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk for more information and to register as an organ donor.