Friday, March 21, 2008

Leanne Myles gets triple organ transplant

"There is not a day goes by that I do not give thanks for what has happened to me."

From The Daily Telegraph in Australia:

LEANNE Myles was on her death bed when she was given the gift of life with the world's first triple organ transplant in 2006.

"I used to wonder how long I was going to live. Now I feel I have a new chance at life," Ms Myles, 34, said yesterday.

She said she still marvelled at the generosity of both the person who donated their organs and their family who agreed to the donation. "They are the brave ones, not me," she said.

With 30 per cent of people dying while on the waiting list for an organ because of a lack of donors, Ms Myles knows how lucky she was.

She was on life support in intensive care at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital with only weeks to live when a donor became available.

Ms Myles suffered from a rare type of hepatitis that caused her body to attack itself and doctors knew her only hope for survival was the simultaneous transplant of a liver, kidney and pancreas.

After the operation, she returned home to Cowra where she remains on anti-rejection drugs and regularly travels to the RPA for check-ups with the hospital's transplant service director Professor Richard Allen.

"I'm his pet project. He keeps an eye on me and says I'm doing well.

"I think they are all chuffed about it. I just think the whole thing was amazing," said Ms Myles, who is rebuilding her life after putting it on hold because of her illness.

Former media boss Sam Chisholm also knows what it is like to be given a second chance. He is celebrating five years this weekend since he was given a double lung transplant.

By the time he joined the other 1800 Australians on the long waiting list for an organ donor, his father and two brothers had been killed by a terrifying hereditary lung disorder which causes emphysema.

The former head of the Nine Network, chairman of Foxtel and executive at the Packer family's PBL, was on oxygen and unable to get out of bed when he got the call from St Vincent's Hospital to say a donor had been found.

Grateful for the work of the surgeons including the hospital's director of lung transplantation, Associate Professor Allan Glanville, and his colleague Michael Wilson, Mr Chisholm never misses a chance to promote organ donation.

In 2004, he helped form the David Hookes Foundation which helped encourage more than 900,000 Australians to register as organ donors in the three years since the cricketer's death.

Hookes became the face of organ donation after his family complied with his wishes and agreed to donate his organs while he was on life support.

Mr Chisholm said there was a tremendous opportunity to save lives.

"In Australia we have brilliant doctors and surgeons. We have the technology and the world's best practise," Mr Chisholm said from his Murrumbidgee farm yesterday.

"We also have long waiting lists of people in need.

"There is not a day goes by that I do not give thanks for what has happened to me."

Among the 198 people around the country waiting for a liver transplant to save their life is Cordelia Whatman.

With the average waiting time for a liver transplant at 205 days, little Cordelia has already been hanging on for longer than that.

Diagnosed shortly after birth with the rare liver disorder bilitary atresia, she celebrates her first birthday next week.

Bilitary atresia is a disorder that destroys the liver's bile ducts, preventing bile from draining and also damaging her liver.

Currently she is undergoing fortnightly check-ups at the Children's Hospital at Westmead and her parents Rachel Vance and Warrick Whatman have been told to remain within a three-hour drive of the hospital in case a liver becomes available.

Latest figures show 1875 Australians are waiting for organ transplants, kidney (1388), heart (100), liver (198), lung (141) and pancreas (48).

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