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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Life Expectancy

Before my transplant, no one really asked me what my life expectancy was. It was just a socially unacceptable question to ask someone who was dying. My doctors also didn't discuss it with me as we all knew the answer all too well. The answer was "any day".

My last admission into hospital before my transplant was due to another severe pleurisy infection. It felt like I was having a heart attack and every breath was literally an effort. With pain meds, steroids and a lot of antibiotics I started to recover but each infection I had weaken my body and lungs dramatically. My mom asked my one doctor "What exactly is happening with her lungs at the moment" and my doctor responded with "They are dying and she needs a transplant as soon as possible, that's all there is to it." 

Just before the pleurisy infection I suffered from a major hemoptysis episode - this is basically when you cough up blood. I remember sitting on my couch and needing to cough, just like every hour of my life, nothing unusual. I started coughing and saw huge lumps of blood in the tissue. I tried to call my mom who was upstairs but I couldn't stop coughing. After a while she came down to see if I was ok and saw me surrouded by blood and blue in the face, unable to speak beacuse I was still coughing. She brought me a bucket and we sat for about 10mins watching the blood pour out of my mouth and nose. Once it had stopped and I had caught my breath she slowly helped me to my bed. I should've gone to hospital but I was literally too weak to move and I knew that calling an ambulance would be too anxiety inducing for me. In the morning we made our way to the hospital and I was treated with the usual antibiotics which helped my lungs recover slightly. This is just an exapmle of why it is hard to answer how much time I had left. There were so many times when we thought I may not recover, but I did! In the end I knew in myself that I only had a few weeks left if I didn't find a donor. I was extremely weak and mentally really struggling to keep my spirits up. 

Now that I've recieved the gift of life my prognosis is a lot less bleak. It is still a very difficult question to answer because your body never truly accepts a new organ and so rejection will always be an issue. It doesn't matter if you've had your transplanted organ for 20 years, your body still does not accept it and you may go into rejection at any time. I have had friends pass away days after their transplant and some people go into rejection 10 years later. It is a constant concern and fear. If rejection doesn't get you then side effects from the MANY drugs you are on are another issue. The list of side effects ranges from cancer to kidney failure so it's a pretty scary list. 

However, none of this matters to me, I have never been one to pay attention to statistics and my body has certainly never followed the rules of what doctors expect. In my mind, these are the lungs I was always meant to have and my body is extremely happy right now. I'm not immune to rejection but it's not something that hangs over me and is a constant fear. I am living one day at a time and IF I ever go into rejection I will deal with it then.

What is my life expectancy? The same as yours! 

I could get hit by a bus later today or I could get cancer in a few years time like so many other people and die from that. None of us knows how long we have to live, we just have to appreciate each day and not take things for granted!


  1. What an amazing young woman you are. True words...none of us know. We say the words often. ..live each day. How many of us truly do. Both you and Jenna inspire me to be in the moment more. So much love to you xxx

    1. Thank-you Jane! It's easier not to take things for granted when you have been through what I have. For everyone else, I hope that stories like Jenna's and mine show people how fragile life is and that not a moment of it should be wasted x


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