Maltese woman gets new liver after waiting for a year in London Hospital
A Maltese woman who had been waiting for a year in London for a compatible liver on Sunday underwent a liver transplant surgery and can now look forward to return to her family in three months’ time.
Bernice Borg, 24 from Cospicua, spoke to The Malta Independent one day before the surgery, not knowing that within the next 24 hours her dream of a new beginning was to come true. It was the day when President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca visited the Franciscans’ Convent where Bernice was staying with her mother Miriam.
Not long after the President departed, Bernice received the news that a donor had been found and she was later taken to hospital for the transplant. Just before the surgery, Bernice said: “The President brought me luck with her visit as in less than 24 hours I received a call from King’s College Hospital in London that a donor had been found and I was rushed to hospital.”
Bernice was diagnosed with liver problems when she was one month old. Her family used to take her to London for regular check-ups. In June 2014, while she was having her regular check up in London she was told by her UK consultant that her next appointment would have been in December 2015.
When she went for the appointment “out of the blue, the UK medical team told me that the liver had completely stopped functioning” and that she had to remain in London to wait for a donor. Bernice, a kind-hearted and jolly person, had to wait for almost a year for a compatible donor.
During this whole year, on days when she used to feel less tired, she helped the nuns with their chores and other patients who were residing there. “When new patients come here and they are not familiar with London, I acted as a tour leader and took them out for walks and showed them a few landmarks like Buckingham Palace and St James Park, and also told them what they should do to go to their respective hospitals.”
Before being constrained to staying in London, Bernice had a good life, had a job, had friends and enjoyed going out. Throughout this year she had her mother with her, but for a couple of months she had to be alone because her sister was going to get married. Bernice heavy-heartedly said that she really wanted to go to the wedding but doctors would not release her to travel because once a donor was found the operation needed to be carried out within a short span of time.
She underwent the procedure on Sunday and it lasted 15 hours.
Although Bernice has a strong character and is always ready to help other people in need, she admitted that there were moments when she hid her true feelings. “There were days where I felt disheartened, especially when other patients with a similar problem got a liver in less time than I did.”
Bernice said that during this year she made new friends and also found a lot of help from her family, nuns, the Malta High Commission in the UK, the hospital both in London and Malta, Puttinu Cares, her employer and also from the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation.
Bernice’s next wish, after the recovery period, which may last another three months, is to come back to Malta and starts a fresh page. She misses her life in Malta and her place of work and her next project is to learn drama, get her driving licence and also help people who are in need.
Before we ended the interview, Bernice wanted to send a message to young people: “Enjoy life to the max but do not harm your body because when you lose something, you realise how important your life is.”