Paisley Daily Express - - Front Page -

Joanne Adam was sit­ting down with a cup of cof­fee and a piece of short­bread when she got the phonecall that would change her life.

She’d been out with her aunt and had just sat down, dunked her short­bread in her cof­fee and taken a bite when the phone rang.

It was Ad­den­brooke’s hos­pi­tal in Cam­bridge telling her they’d found a match donor for all six of her or­gans and an am­bu­lance would be at her John­stone home in the next half hour to col­lect her. That was at 3.45pm. She and her younger sis­ter Ali­son ar­rived in Cam­bridge at mid­night. At 7.30am the next morn­ing, Joanne was on the op­er­at­ing table and un­der­went a gru­elling 18-hour op­er­a­tion to re­place her liver, stom­ach, bowel, pan­creas, small in­tes­tine and large in­tes­tine.

Now, af­ter 12 weeks and three days in hos­pi­tal, she’s back home and re­cov­er­ing well af­ter hav­ing six or­gan trans­plants, her spleen re­moved, and an op­er­a­tion on her brain to ease a build up of fluid.

The mum-of-two is a med­i­cal mir­a­cle.

Her jour­ney be­gan four years ago in Au­gust 2013, when she started hav­ing se­vere stom­ach pains and was strug­gling to breathe. She went to the Royal Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal, but doc­tors there strug­gled to di­ag­nose what was wrong.

A scan and biopsy re­vealed a tu­mour on her liver – but doc­tors didn’t know what kind it was, or how to treat it.

No-one had ever seen this kind of tu­mour be­fore. I’m the only per­son to have this kind of tu­mour in the UK Joanne Adam

Joanne, 47, was given painkillers to man­age the pain and it wasn’t un­til April 2016 that a doc­tor in Ed­in­burgh fi­nally di­ag­nosed the tu­mour as gan­glioneu­ro­mato­sis.

Joanne said: “No-one had ever seen this kind of tu­mour be­fore, I’m the only per­son to have this kind of tu­mour in the UK.”

Rather than be­ing a sep­a­rate growth, Joanne’s tu­mour grew like a tree with vines spread­ing into other or­gans.

But with the re­lief of know­ing what the tu­mour was, came the shock news that the only way to treat it, was to re­move all the af­fected or­gans.

Joanne said: “I was in shock, dis­be­lief. How can they trans­plant all those or­gans? I was pan­ick­ing. What would hap­pen if they didn’t get a trans­plant in time and it spreads to more places?

“I was told to pack my bags, I could get the call any time.”

Doc­tors from the Cam­bridge trans­plant team trav­elled to Glas­gow to meet Joanne and talk to her about the op­er­a­tion. She then spent two weeks in Cam­bridge get­ting blood tests and speak­ing to psy­chol­o­gists about the men­tal im­pact of go­ing through a trans­plant.

Joanne was a full-time carer for her par­ents Anne and Peter, who have both since passed away, be­fore her di­ag­no­sis, and be­fore that she worked as a carer for Ca­pa­bil­ity Scot­land.

She said: “My mum was of­fered the chance of a lung trans­plant but she had COPD – Chronic Ob­struc­tive Pul­monary Dis­ease – so she wasn’t el­i­gi­ble. My dad needed a kid­ney trans­plant but again he was un­fit for it. I do know how the process works.

“I know how well you have to re­spect your or­gans and I won’t abuse them, be­cause I know from my mum and dad how pre­cious they are.”

Her son Thomas, 17, re­mem­bers

Fight­ing fit Sit­ting up in hos­pi­tal

Sign up Joanne is urg­ing peo­ple to sign up to the or­gan donor reg­is­ter and tell their fam­i­lies of their wishes

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