‘A mas­sive change for me to ac­tu­ally be able to breathe’

It’s Na­tional Or­gan Do­na­tion Week 2017. Here Welsh peo­ple who have un­der­gone a life­sav­ing trans­plant talk about the ef­fect it has had on their lives and the im­por­tance of or­gan do­na­tion

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS -

ON Christ­mas Eve 2015, while most peo­ple were busy wrap­ping last minute presents and mak­ing fi­nal plans for the big day, 32-year-old Kim­berly Chard was pre­par­ing to un­dergo a life-chang­ing dou­ble lung trans­plant.

Kim­berly was se­verely ill with cys­tic fi­bro­sis, a ge­netic con­di­tion which causes the lungs and di­ges­tive sys­tem to be­come clogged with a thick, sticky mu­cus.

Over many years, the con­di­tion causes the lungs to be­come in­creas­ingly dam­aged and may eventu- ally stop them from work­ing al­to­gether.

Luck­ily, Kim­berly’s nine-hour pro­ce­dure at Hare­field Hospi­tial on the out­skirts of Lon­don was de­scribed by sur­geons as a re­sound­ing suc­cess, and she even­tu­ally re­turned home to Cardiff to re­cover.

Al­most two years later Kim­berly, now 33, says the dif­fer­ence to her life has been “huge”.

“I have gone hav­ing 13 per­cent func­tion­al­ity to from lung nearnor­mal so it’s a mas­sive change for me to ac­tu­ally be able to breathe,” she said. “I am able to go out and walk the dog and I have got back to my art.”

Fear­ful that the worst might hap­pen, Kim­berly and her part­ner Luke got mar­ried in the September, shortly be­fore a suit­able donor was found.

Kim­berly said the trans­plant has had a knock-on ef­fect on Luke and the rest of her fam­ily’s life.

“He was my carer be­fore­hand, hav­ing to work full-time and still look after me and get me about,” she said. “It got to the point where I couldn’t even walk down stairs.

“So it’s a huge thing for him too be­cause he can en­joy life now again.”

Kim­berly has been able to get back to prac­tic­ing her il­lus­tra­tion and is look­ing for­ward to hold­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of her work at Ch­ester Arts Fair in Novem­ber.

She re­ceived her life­sav­ing trans­plant in the same month changes were made to do­na­tion laws in Wales.

Start­ing on De­cem­ber 1, 2015, peo­ple who do not want to do­nate their or­gans are now re­quired to for­mally opt out.

Liza Jane Baker has un­der­gone two kid­ney trans­plants after she sus­tained chronic kid­ney fail­ure re­sult­ing from an un­treated child­hood wa­ter in­fec­tion.

The 45-year-old singer, who also goes by the stage name Liza Starlight and made ap­pear­ances on The Voice ear­lier this year, had her first kid­ney trans­plant at the age of 20 in 1992 and her sec­ond when she was 30.

She said she’s had al­most a com­pletely clean bill of health since her sec­ond trans­plant, but has ex­pe­ri­enced ter­ri­ble pain as a re­sult of her ill­ness.

“If you have been through some­thing tough you re­alise then on the other end how lucky you are to have your health,” she said.

“You take it for granted un­til it is stripped away and then you miss it like crazy and you want it back.”

Liza was a vo­cal sup­porter of chang­ing the law on or­gan do­na­tion and is pleased more peo­ple are able to ben­e­fit from trans­plants in Wales.

“All these peo­ple who are wait­ing, I am sure the change in the law is go­ing to make such a big dif­fer­ence to help them have their life ex­tended.”

She added: “Some­times peo­ple do plan to give their body parts but it’s ei­ther stopped by fam­ily or they just don’t get around to sign­ing the forms.”

Mother of three Lucy Hansen-Clarke, 37, do­nated one of her kid­neys to her step­fa­ther David Brown ear­lier this year.

David’s kid­ney func­tion was se­verely af­fected by med­i­ca­tion he had to take fol­low­ing a heart at­tack five years ago.

He also re­ceived a heart trans­plant last Novem­ber.

“It’s a longer road than you are re­ally pre­pared for,” Lucy said.

“I think they try and pre­pare you but I’m not sure if they can pre­pare you enough.

“It’s not an in­stant fix for him. He’s still not com­pletely bet­ter and we are four months down the line after my op­er­a­tion.”

Lucy says she took time out of her ca­reer to care for David and to get her­self fit enough to do­nate her kid­ney.

“I don’t think you re­alise as a donor how much it takes more than a kid­ney from you,” she added.

“You don’t plan for af­ter­wards so it’s been a re­ally big roller­coaster and I’m try­ing to fig­ure out what the rest of my life is now.”

She says she’s look­ing for­ward to be­gin­ning a the­atre and make-up course in September, and is en­joy­ing good phys­i­cal health fol­low­ing the pro­ce­dure in March.

Lucy added that she would give her kid­ney again if she could.

“I would do it for any­body but it was also very spe­cial be­cause it’s my step­dad.”

David, 64, said he’s look­ing for­ward to go­ing on hol­i­day abroad in the Ca­naries now he isn’t re­stricted by sev­eral hours of haemodial­y­sis every day.

Kim­berly Chard un­der­went a dou­ble lung trans­plant on Christ­mas Eve 2015. Inset, Kim­berly says she is now en­joy­ing a ‘huge’ dif­fer­ence to her life

Lucy Hansen-Clarke do­nated one of her kid­neys to her step­fa­ther David Brown

Liza Baker per­forms Alone by Heart on The Voice

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