King’s College Hospital chiefs are calling for more awareness about donating organs and other tissues – which could possibly save someone’s life.
Hilary Patel, the new chair of the Denmark Hill hospital’s organ donation committee, needed a new liver herself – and had to go through ten unsuccessful donation attempts before she had a successful transplant.
She almost died on one occasion after suffering from sepsis and organ failure, but eventually found a suitable donor in 2015 at the eleventh time of asking.
This week is organ donation week and Ms Patel has shared her ‘exhausting and scary’ journey to receiving a liver transplant.
She said: “In 2002, at the age of 22, I was diagnosed with what is now known as Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC). It was perhaps more unusual for someone my age to be diagnosed with PBC but I was lucky that my local gastroenterologist recognised the markers in my blood tests and knew who to refer me too – the Liver Unit at King’s, one of the world leaders in liver care.
“I lived with the disease, largely with only subtle symptoms, for over a decade but eventually I was put on the liver transplant list in autumn 2015. What followed were 10 unsuccessful attempts to find me a suitable donor, including a pretty severe case of sepsis and organ failure, which was only recognised because the registrar who came on shift while I was in resus in my local A&E had done a placement at King’s in the Liver Unit, and whom I credit with saving my life that day.
“But it was eleventh time lucky for me and I was successfully transplanted on 5 December 2015, by Mr Menon and a great team of clinical and nursing staff. I have been well ever since thanks to the care at King’s.
“Thankfully, my journey is fairly unusual and most people are transplanted within a few times of a suitable donor being identified. And while it was certainly exhausting and scary at times, the experience gave me the privilege to really understand the fine spiders’ web that is the organ donation system – each part working together to make an incredible, finely woven, yet very delicate, whole.
“I am also acutely aware that that system only works due to the generosity and bravery of donors and their families who are willing to pause their grieving to think about helping to save the lives of complete strangers. It is with this in mind that I will be working with the dedicated and brilliant teams here at King’s College Hospital to ensure the organ donation system remains an excellent, respectful and compassionate service, of which we can all be proud.”
To find out more and become an organ donor click here: