Scunthorpe woman so grateful to kidney donor who saved her life
A WOMAN who campaigned in the Scunthorpe Telegraph for people to carry donor cards after she was placed on the transplant waiting list has received a new liver.
Rhiannon Jeans, 44, from Scunthorpe, has suffered from primary billiary cirrhosis, an incurable liver disease, for ten years and was diagnosed with liver cancer.
She was placed on the transplant waiting list almost a year ago and did not know whether a match would be found.
But two weeks ago, she received a call at 10.30pm from St James's Hospital in Leeds with news of a matching donor.
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She has now returned home after a successful operation and wants to pass on the news to others who are in a similar position to the one she faced last year.
"I was told I was going to die if I didn't get a transplant," she said. "I am just so grateful. It's like being reborn – being taken from the depths of despair to real optimism – I cannot wait to be 100 now.
"I am the lucky one because there are still people dying who are on the waiting list – that's the sad part about it all, which is why we've got to keep raising awareness.
"I've had so much support over the last year from staff at Lindsey Lodge Hospice who have been fantastic at keeping me positive. I want to say a special thank you to them."
Mrs Jean's condition is a chronic liver disease that usually affects women. It is quite rare and people do not often know that they have got it.
Her only symptom was a so-called frozen hand that was diagnosed as having been caused by the disease when she had a blood test.
"Until I had a new liver, I didn't realise how bad I was" she said. "Every joint in my body hurt and I was being sick every day, dragging myself around. It's miraculous – I have so much more energy then I had 10 years ago and now I've had the operation I'm doing really well."
Now Mrs Jeans wants to use her experience to bring hope to others and raise awareness about the importance of carrying a donor card.
She said: "I want to install positivity in people who are on a transplant waiting list.
"All donors and their families make that decision during difficult conditions and they don't always realise they are saving lives. I have got a new liver and I honour the family who donated it after a terrible tragedy.
"I got 90 per cent of the liver donor and a new born baby had 10 per cent and is said to be doing as equally as well as me – it's really humbling.
"I will be grateful every day for the rest of my life. It's life-altering and life-affirming – renewing my faith in Mother Nature."
It is expected to be three months before Mrs Jeans will be fully back on her feet but she is looking to the future.
She said: "It's been an awful year, not being able to go anywhere in case I receive a call and my health was gradually deteriorating. Our life had been on hold – it was a big black hole and I am now the light at the end of the tunnel."
Mrs Jeans plans to go on holiday with her family and is looking forward to celebrating her husband's birthday at the beginning of December.
She is also busy painting 12 canvasses that depict her year on the waiting list. Once completed these will be donated to the art gallery in the oncology unit at St James' Hospital.
To contact Mrs Jeans, call the Telegraph on 01724 273153.