University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust was proud to welcome back Sarah Lewis last month (August 18, 2015).
Sarah is now urging people from Coventry and Warwickshire to join the NHS Organ Donation Register for National Transplant Week (September 7-13, 2015).
Having been diagnosed with kidney failure in 1987, Sarah had spent three years on dialysis waiting for a transplant.
Following a difficult decision, a family decided to donate their loved one’s organs and Sarah received the phone call she’d been waiting for when Transplant Co-Ordinator Nick West called to say the kidney was compatible for transplantation.
Sarah headed to hospital and had her transplant later that evening. After her operation Sarah said: “I recovered quite quickly, I felt great and had an abundance of energy I hadn’t had for years.
“Within six months I did a 20 mile walk for charity. Before the operation, I was on mobility allowance because I couldn’t walk very far. The transformation was wonderful.”
The transplant changed Sarah’s lifestyle dramatically and made a huge difference to her quality of life.
Not certain how long her new kidney would last, Sarah said: “Doctors told me there was a 50% chance it would last five years and if it lasted ten it would be incredible. So to be here 25 years later is just amazing.
“For any transplant patients there’s a degree of uncertainty, so I’ve always felt like I’ve needed to make the most of my time, I’ve always packed things in. I’ve travelled all over the world to places I could have only dreamed of before like Australia, Japan and the States.”
After her transplant, Sarah took up lots of sports and activities, finishing nine marathons and competing in the British Transplant Games from 1991-2012, winning a number of medals. Sarah added: “All of a sudden I had all this excess energy I needed to use up, so I went sports crazy, and I felt absolutely wonderful.”
Coventry City FC season ticket holder Sarah celebrated her anniversary at the Ricoh Arena watching the team beat Crewe Alexandra. She added: “It was a great game to celebrate at, and it was almost at the exact time when I would have been in theatre 25 years ago.
“I know I’m incredibly lucky because organ donation is such a precious and valuable gift. It’s really important to remember that whilst I celebrate the 25th anniversary of my transplant, I know that somewhere a family is not having such a nice anniversary.”
UHCW NHS Trust Transplant Co-Ordinator Nick West said: “It’s a really special anniversary for Sarah as 25 years is a huge milestone to reach. It’s special for me too, as Sarah was the first transplant I’d co-ordinated, so it’s really great how well she is still doing today.
“There are many people in Coventry and Warwickshire who need organ transplants, and Sarah is living proof of what an amazing difference that organ donation can make to an individual in need.”
If you’d like to join the organ donor register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk