Organ and Tissue Authority
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Out of the blue

The love from family, friends and people we came in contact with was phenomenal.

Everything happened so fast and out of the blue, it was like a whirlwind and at the centre of this whirlwind was Jim, my big, strong, wise brother.

We were off to the coast for a holiday and had visited Jim and his wife Lee before we left. Jim said 'have a great time, don't worry about anything and we'll see you in a few weeks'.

The next day Jim became jaundiced and his fight to live began. He was admitted to hospital and the following week flown by air ambulance to the transplant unit at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Doctors did not know why this healthy 49 year old man became suddenly ill and why his liver was shrinking and dying before their eyes. Jim underwent a myriad of tests, however his condition continued to deteriorate and he was placed on the transplant waiting list.

Three days later his major organs began to shut down and we knew if a liver was not available he would die. At 10pm that evening we got the word that Jim had been scheduled for a liver transplant.

Jim pulled through the massive operation, thanks to the exceptional skill and care of the medical and nursing staff. It was a hard road to recovery both physically and mentally. To stop his body rejecting the new liver he required high levels of steroids, causing hallucinations-a terrifying experience.

It's hard to capture this whole experience in so few words. The love from family, friends and people we came in contact with was phenomenal. They all contributed to Jim 'hanging in there',being strong and positive. But it was Jim's inner strength and the love and support of Lee and their three sons that had the most impact.

Jim truly appreciates and respects his new liver and the person who donated it along with the people who donated their blood and plasma which circulated in his body for days keeping him alive.

Years before, Jim had the conversation with his family about organ donation and registered as an organ donor, however receiving a donated organ was still a huge emotional experience that can not be underestimated.

We've known people who have died whilst waiting for a transplant and hope by telling our story it will encourage more people to choose to make their wishes known about organ donation.

Nicky Burton