Back in 2013, 57-year-old Barbara thought she was fairly healthy. She had some back pains, but she put them down to age. When the pains persisted, however, she sought a diagnosis – the start of a life-saving journey with Leon Adams and the Hepatology team at Charlies.
Barbara’s initial diagnosis attributed her back pains to a problem with her gall bladder, but an MRI revealed the problem was more serious. It was her liver, and it was failing.
As someone who hadn’t been a drinker and didn’t have any dubious tattoos or piercings (risk factors often associated with liver disease), the diagnosis of non-alcoholic liver disease was a huge shock.
I was thinking ‘I’m not going to see Christmas’. Everything was slowing down. I wasn’t doing well.
“Over the next three years, I attended the liver clinic and had some nasty incidents. I ended up in an induced coma at one stage, which was when I was transferred to Charlies."
“Fast forward to October 2016, having been on the waiting list for a liver transplant for over three years, I was thinking ‘I’m not going to see Christmas’. Everything was slowing down. I wasn’t doing well."
“Then, in the early hours of the morning on 22 October, I got a call from Leon at Charlies telling me they had a liver for me. I grabbed by bag, which had been packed and ready to go for three years, and went in for the transplant.”
Her transplant has made a huge difference to Barbara’s life, but her recovery wasn’t easy. She spent months as an inpatient after her transplant – an experience that gave her even greater admiration for the nursing staff and the Hepatology department at Charlies, including Leon.
“I am in awe of the people at Charlies,” Barbara said. “Leon is lovely. He’s one of the professors I saw at the clinic, throughout my journey. He made me feel involved, answered my questions, helped me feel in control – as if I’m a person, not just another patient in a gown. Leon and the team kept me going until I got my transplant."
I’ve got a grandson who turns one tomorrow. Last year, I didn’t think I was going to see his first Christmas, let alone his first birthday.
That’s why Barbara, who’s on a disability pension, thinks it is important to make a donation that will help fund research projects at Charlies.
“I don’t have bags of money or anything, but I think any funding for research is important, especially liver disease – it doesn’t have the same profile as some of the other major diseases. If I can do anything to promote the work at Charlies and help them raise funds for research, I will.”
Want to support Leon’s life-saving research and other life-changing, life-saving research projects here at Charlies? Then join our growing community of donors and supporters.