Printer Friendly

THE LIFESAVERS; It took all of these people.. and many more .. to give Vicky transplant.

Byline: By Samantha Booth

WORKING for the NHS is not just for doctors and nurses. Giving the best care possible involves a huge number of people excelling in a vast variety of different roles.

In the week the Scottish Executive launched their latest NHS recruitment drive, organ recipient Vicky Wright has more reasons than most to appreciate the number of people involved in making the miracle of transplant happen.

Because Vicky's life has been saved TWICE by transplant operations.

Born with cystic fibrosis, she needed a lung transplant by the time she was 14, then eight weeks ago the 20-year-old, from Airdrie, Lanarkshire, had to be given a kidney by her mum, Rosena.

Both operations have meant the difference between life and death for the young woman.

Mum Rosena said: "We could see the difference in Vicky as soon as she came out of theatre after her lung transplant, she just looked so healthy.

"Sadly there were complications because it turned out the donor organs had a blood clot which left Vicky in a coma for seven weeks, but once we got her home she was able to live her life like a proper teenager for the first time.

"She was only really beginning to get excited about life when we discovered there was a problem with her kidneys, caused by the drugs she has to take so her body does not reject her lungs.

"We found out about the problem two days before her 18th birthday. All of a sudden she faced a future of four-hour sessions of dialysis three times a week."

At the end of last year it became apparent that once again Vicky's only option was a transplant. Despite the dialysis she was getting weaker by the day and was having to spend more and more time in hospital.

It was not just a case of needing a new kidney in order for her to lead a normal life, Vicky needed one so she could stay alive.

Rosena said: "It was incredibly difficult for us all to find ourselves in this position again, but at least we had the option of a family member giving her a kidney.

"When Vicky was a put on the lung transplant register we were incredibly lucky because we only had to wait six days before we got the call from Great Ormond Street Hospital and we will always be grateful to the person who donated the lungs, and their family.

"But having tests to see whose organ would be most suitable was pretty daunting.

"I wasn't worried for myself, but I was concerned that the best match may end up being my other daughter Kirsty.

"When it turned out it was me I was delighted, although I was a little bit nervous."

Then exactly eight weeks ago today mother and daughter were taken into theatre at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. Vicky almost changed her mind at the last minute, panicked by the thought of her mum going through such a big operation, but Rosena was determined to give her daughter the kidney.

A few hours later the news came through that everyone had been waiting for - the operation had been a success.

Rosena said: "Fingers crossed that this time there will be no complications and Vicky can get on with her life once again."

Of course Vicky owes a huge vote of thanks to her mum for donating her kidney, but also to the dozens of staff involved.

Jen Lumsdaine, Vicky's transplant co-ordinator at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, said: "At each stage of the process we rely on many people to work together to ensure the best outcome.

"Seeing the recipient after the operation reminds us what a special gift the donor has given, and what a difference it can make."

Here we take a look at all the different people needed to save Vicky's life:

Tissue typist -the person who works on matching tissue types to determine the donor's compatibility.

Donor investigation team-a group of radiologists, radiographers and an independent medical assessor, who make sure the donor is fit for the operation and under no pressure to go through with it.

Lab staff and cardiac technicians-a team of people who study tissues and look at kidney function for any possible problems. Anything detected here can lead to referrals to other hospital departments which can then bring in yet more health professionals.

Pathologist - responsible for checking kidney tissue biopsies for rejection

Phlebotomists-take blood samples.

Consultant transplant surgeon-there are two involved in the procedure, one responsible for removing the kidney and one for implanting it. At this stage it is the consultant surgeon who is responsible for removing the kidney - in Vicky's case Murat Akyol - who has the final word in deciding if the donor is fit enough for the operation. Many others have their say though, including the anaesthetist, independent medical assessor and kidney specialists. Likewise the other consultant surgeon - Mr John Forsythe in Vicky's case - has the final say on the recipient's fitness.

Live donor transplant co-ordinator - Jen Lumsdaine was Vicky's live donor transplant co-ordinator and was with her and her mum for the entire process, giving support to the whole family.

Jen said: "My job is to make sure everyone has all the information they need and to give them whatever support I can. It's an amazingly rewarding role as I get to know families very well and see the incredible transformation transplants have on their lives."

Ward nurses-like Vicky's ward sister Carolyn Barrett, these nurses are responsible for preparation in the hours before the operation. They also help to reassure donor and recipient in what is an anxious time.

Consultant anaesthetist-Dr Dermot McKeown in Vicky's case, is responsible for making sure both donor and recipient receive correct levels of anaesthetic.

Surgeons-they carry out the transplant.

Theatre staff-their role is to assist the surgeons during the procedures, like staff nurse Susan Pounder in Vicky's transplant.

Perfusionist-keeps the kidney lubricated during the hour it is out of the body.

High dependency unit nurses - highly-trained specialist nurses who give vital

care in the hours following surgery.

Kidney doctors - monitor the function of kidneys, although the surgeons are also still involved in the aftercare.

Physiotherapists-like Shelagh Salter who took care of Vicky and Rosena, they are brought in early in the aftercare to kick start rehabilitation and avoid complications.

Pharmacist -provide the correct anti-rejection drugs which play such a key part in the success of a transplant.

Dietician - in order for the kidney to function properly and for the recovery of both patients, dietary requirements are an important consideration.

Medical secretaries - responsible for all the behind the scenes administration without which a transplant would never happen.

Domestics-their housekeeping duties play a vital role and domestic Irene Wilson worked on Vicky's ward.

Chaplain-like Anne Mulligen in Vicky and Rosena's case, hospital chaplains are always on hand to provide support.

If you have worked in the health service and want to tell us your experiences, write to Your View, Daily Record, 1 Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA or text us on 07781 48 44 22.

To find out more, call the Organ Donation Line on 0845 606 0400 or log on to

'At each stage of the process we rely on many people to work together'


SMILES BETTER: Vicky and her mum Rosena, below, have to thank, left to right, consultant anaesthetist Dr Dermot McKeown, staff nurse Susan Pounder, transplant co-ordinator Jen Lumsdaine, ward sister Carolyn Barrett, transplant co-ordinator secretary Majorie Watts, transplant secretary Donna Wright, physiotherapist Shelagh Salter, domestic Irene Wilson, chaplain Anne Mulligen and, front, consultant transplant therapist Murat Akyol PICTURE: DEREK BLAIR
COPYRIGHT 2006 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 10, 2006
Next Article:Voice of Scotland; AS the Scottish Executive launches a new campaign to encourage people to work within the NHS, health practitioner for NHS Lothian...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters