Trapped in limbo, wait­ing for an or­gan trans­plant

Sunday Sun - - News - By KATIE DICK­IN­SON Re­porter katie.dick­in­son@reach­plc.com

TRAPPED in limbo, Alan Ross is pray­ing for a swap op mir­a­cle.

Given a stark choice by his doc­tor to give up the booze or die, Alan hasn’t touched a drop since 2001.

But after 17 years of fol­low­ing doc­tor’s or­ders, the 59-year-old was dealt a cruel blow when a rou­tine scan dis­cov­ered can­cer­ous cells in his liver.

While the or­gan is func­tion­ing at the mo­ment, if the can­cer spreads out­side the or­gan, Alan says: “I’m a goner”.

The ware­house­man is now in limbo as, after two false alarms, he spends his sec­ond year on the wait­ing list for a new or­gan.

“My life has been on hold for two years,” said Alan, of Long­ben­ton, North Ty­ne­side.

“You go through dif­fer­ent emo­tions all the time. Ev­ery time the phone rings your heart starts pound­ing, ex­pect­ing it to be some­one from the Free­man say­ing ‘pack your bag and get your­self here within the hour’.”

Alan has cir­rho­sis of the liver, caused by years of heavy drink­ing.

But he stopped drink­ing 17

years ago when told it was pos­ing a risk to his life.

Alan said: “My last drink of al­co­hol was at 10pm on the 17th of Au­gust 2001. I haven’t touched it since.

“I wouldn’t say I was an al­co­holic, but I would go out most nights and have a few pints for about 20 years. It was a so­cial thing.”

Two years ago, a scan dis­cov­ered can­cer­ous cells in his liver. He was put on a wait­ing list for a trans­plant and, after two false alarms, is still wait­ing.

Alan said: “I’m still fit at the mo­ment. Peo­ple ex­pect me to look ill, and when I tell them my con­di­tion they can’t be­lieve it. But I was lucky that they caught the can­cer at an early stage.”

But wait­ing for a trans­plant has its draw­backs.

Alan added: “I’m stuck. I can’t go on hol­i­day be­cause I need to be no more than three hours away from the hospi­tal in case I get a call to say they’ve got a do­nated liver.”

Plans to change the rules on or­gan do­na­tion con­sent in Eng­land are cur­rently go­ing through Par­lia­ment. A bill re­quir­ing peo­ple to ‘ opt out’ if they do not want their or­gans used passed its first hur­dle in Fe­bru­ary.

At the mo­ment in Eng­land, or­gans can only be used if ex­plicit ap­proval is given, ei­ther by sign­ing the regis­ter or if the de­ceased had told a fam­ily mem­ber of their de­sire.

Alan said: “Ob­vi­ously, I’m all for it. I agree that peo­ple should have to opt out rather than opt in to do­nate their or­gans. I can un­der­stand why some peo­ple would say ‘you’re not tak­ing my son’s or daugh­ter’s or what­ever fam­ily mem­ber’s or­gans’, but what if it was some­one in your fam­ily who needed a trans­plant? A lot of peo­ple are dy­ing while on the wait­ing lists. It’s a gift, and very kind of peo­ple.”

Alan Ross is in ur­gent need of a liver trans­plant

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