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Gemma's story

What 21 year-old wants to use a wheelchair and be on oxygen all the time? Not me.

My name is Gemma and I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when I was three weeks old. I remained quite healthy throughout my childhood, with parents Malcolm and Wendy always encouraging me and having fun with my older sister Natalie.

When I was 11 years old, blood tests showed my liver function started to decline and a close eye was kept on my liver for the next few years. Eventually it was decided I would need a liver transplant. As a 13 year old, I just accepted it and got on with it, although it was overwhelming and scary.

The phone rang one day and Mum gave me a thumbs up sign. It was the hospital saying they had a liver for me.

I was wheeled off to surgery after an emotional goodbye with the family (I knew I was in good hands though). After a long two month recovery, I got on with being a 14 year-old again. My teenage years were very healthy and the liver transplant also helped to keep my lungs healthy for a good six years.

At 20, after years of treatments, intravenous antibiotics and hospital admissions, my lungs started to go downhill and became immune to a lot of the antibiotics. At 21, I was put on the transplant waiting list. I have been waiting for three months. I can't wait to get my lung transplant and get my 21 year old self back. What 21 year-old wants to use a wheelchair and be on oxygen all the time? Not me. I love partying with friends, having a laugh and living it up. I plan to travel and complete studying when I do get my transplant; right now I am too sick.

Organ donation does save lives and it is the greatest thing a family can do for someone else. I think of my liver donor all the time and am forever grateful.

Please discuss organ donation with your family and friends. We don't like the topic of dying, but for those waiting on the list, we face it every day.


Nicky Burton