A Scots dad who turned a deep shade of yellow as his liver began to shut down has been given a second chance after a life-saving transplant. Gareth Weeks initially began feeling exhausted around six years ago but assumed it was part of being a father to his newborn daughter Zara, who was just months old at the time.
But the 38-year-old was left in ‘total shock’ after being diagnosed with an incurable liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) - which has a life expectancy of just 10 to 12 years. Gareth, from Dunfermline, Fife, underwent years of drug trials and was closely monitored before being told he had to be added to the transplant list - his only chance of survival.
As he desperately waited for a match, his liver function deteriorated so severely that his skin became ever more yellow from severe jaundice.
After an anxious seven month wait, with his hospital bag lying packed at the door, the dad-of-one finally received the call he had been waiting for in May this year. The surgery went off without a hitch at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Gareth, wife Vicki and their seven-year-old daughter Zara are now looking forward to the best Christmas ever.
He said: “In six months, I’ve gone from sleeping everyday to exercising. I’ve gone from missing out to being there. I’ve gone from feeling hopeless to hopeful. All of this would not have been possible without the generosity of my donor and their family.
“I don’t yet have the words to fully describe how I feel other than my donor is a true hero. I am so grateful to all of the team at the RIE for giving me and my family this second chance, they are truly world-class.
“I’m really excited about spending Christmas with my family as we’ve not really been able to enjoy it fully with my illness hanging over us. This year we’ll be enjoying a Christmas lunch at home before heading off to Paris with my brother, sister-in-law and nephews, who arrive from Cape Town on Boxing Day.
“I have a long road ahead, but I’m actually excited about my future again. I’ve entered the Edinburgh half marathon next May and we’ve also booked our first family holiday abroad in years – to Disneyland.“
Gareth is one of hundreds of patients whose lives have been transformed by the teams at the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. A total of 1,758 patients have received a lifesaving transplant since the unit first opened its doors on November 2nd 1992 to help give patients a second chance of life.
John Casey, Consultant Surgeon and Clinical Director for Transplant, NHS Lothian, said: “Gareth’s story is incredibly inspiring, and I commend him for raising awareness of organ donation. We wish him and his family all the very best.
“While the sheer number of transplants is remarkable, the transplant unit is about people helping people and I am very proud of all the staff who have worked so hard in the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit over the last 30 years.
“If you participate in any part of transplantation, you know that each transplant takes a full team including doctors, nurses, allied professionals, donor services and family members working together.
“The Transplant Unit has been able to help so many patients because of the generosity of organ donors — those giving the ultimate gift of life. Thank you all for being part of the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit’s evolution and success.”
For details about organ donation, visit organdonationscotland.org.
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