Our advocate, Audrey Eade, has an amazing story to tell about the circumstances of her transplant so we were delighted that she was able to overcome her nerves to talk about it in front of doctors and nurses at the Cambridge Hepatobiliary, renal and Transplant Unit regional transplantation study day in Oxford last week.
Audrey was born with the genetic condition cystic fibrosis and although she was really well, part of her annual care at Papworth hospital was to have a variety of tests carried out. In 2002 'something' was detected on her liver ultrasound. Audrey was due to have an angiogram and beforehand was asked to confirm all the usual information like name, date of birth and whether there was any chance she could be pregnant. It can be difficult for people with cystic fibrosis to conceive, but as Audrey couldn't say for sure the tests were postponed until they had an answer. Whilst all of Audrey's thoughts were focussed on trying to establish whether she had liver cancer, it turns out that she was indeed pregnant. Audrey was three months pregnant when she was diagnosed with primary liver cancer, a disease often fatal. In what must have been a terrifying time, Audrey was referred to St Mary's in London where they were trialling a new procedure. Luckily, the new procedure shrank her tumours by 75% and the baby, who she never dared believe would make it, was born in May 2003 born fit and healthy.
When Christian was three months old Audrey had traditional chemotherapy, and although the results were fantastic unfortunately she still had cancer so transplantation was discussed. Although Audrey did not officially meet the criteria the doctors took a chance on her and she eventually was lucky enough to receive a new liver. Audrey is so grateful to her donor as four and a half years later, she is still around to read stories to her son who is also now reading them to her!
Although Audrey has told her story a hundred times before never in her life had she given a presentation in front of lots of people. She was ridiculously terrified for days before, but as she stood behind the podium she took a deep breath and with the helpful assistance of a powerpoint presentation just let her amazing story flow. We at LLTGL are so proud of Audrey, for despite her nerves, she had the courage to stand up and speak so well. She got a few laughs and a few tears but most importantly, she put across the most important thing about transplantation: It doesn't just save one life but the lives of all her friends and family. Her husband, son, father and big brother were all saved from the heartache of needlessly losing someone close.
"I am eternally grateful to everyone involved in my care, and especially to the family who made such a selfless decision at such a difficult time. Although the future remains uncertain, we are all extremely happy that we got these extra years. It means the world to us all"