Mal­tese woman gets new liver after wait­ing for a year in Lon­don Hos­pi­tal

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel At­tard

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.”

Ber­nice Borg

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