A MUM who went to the doctors because of constant tiredness was given just 72 hours to live.
Diana Higman thought she was just rundown from life as a single mum and training to become a nurse.
After her dad died, doctors put her exhaustion down to stress but asked her to have some blood tests to rule out anything serious.
But when the results came back the 56-year-old found out she had auto immune hepatitis and was in desperate need of a new liver, as hers was shrinking rapidly.
Now the 56-year-old has shared her story of how a stranger whose liver she received saved her. She is telling her story to raise awareness during Organ Donation week.
She told Derbyshire Live: “It was nearly 11 years ago I became ill. I was doing my nurse training and my dad had died not long before. I was really tired but the doctor put it down to stress.
“Next thing I know, I was being put on a super urgent transplant list and was given 72 hours to live.”
“I was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for a liver transplant which I was not expecting.
“I was so scared, miles away from home and all alone. They came Friday and said we have a liver, but after tests later that day they said it was too big and wouldn’t fit.
“They put me on a list which searches all over the UK for an organ. This was a very scary time as they said my liver would only last a couple of days.”
The next day Diana was told another organ was ready for her, but her spirits were low.
She said: “I didn’t really get too optimistic then as I realised that someone was losing their life for me to live. It messes with your head big time, but due to toxins in my brain from my liver not working properly, this didn’t really hit me fully ’till after the operation.
DEADLY DISEASE What is autoimmune hepatitis
AUTOIMMUNE hepatitis (AIH) is a type of liver disease which occurs when your immune system attacks your liver cells.
It is a chronic condition that can result in cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver and, ultimately, liver failure.
AIH happens when you immune system mistakes you liver cells for foreign bodies and attacks them like it would a disease.
Doctors don’t know exactly why this occurs but have identified certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of contracting it, including: a family history of AIH, a history of bacterial or viral infections, being a woman and the use of certain medications, such as minocycline
Symptoms of the disease include: enlarged liver (hepatomegaly), abnormal blood vessels on the skin, abdominal distention, dark urine and pale poo.
“They came and said we going to harvest your liver which is a horrible way of explaining it.”
Derby lass Diana said the transplant took more than a year to get over and she could not walk or even open a bottle of milk after the operation.
She said: “When I first went home I couldn’t walk, open a bottle of milk, or get off the sofa without help. I had lost all my muscle and I looked so poorly.”
Before her transplant, Diana was a keen sportswoman and she was worried she would be unable to participate in sports like before, but then she discovered the World Transplant Games.
She said: “I thought my life as I knew it was done and I was only 45. But then I saw a poster for transplant sport and all the people on there looked normal. I thought I will get better.
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“I got in touch with them and never looked back.”
Since then Diana has won seven gold medals, three silver, medals and one bronze, and has travelled to places including Sweden and South Africa in cycling.
Diana, who now just has medication now and check-ups every six months, said she will “always be in awe” of her donor, who has given her “at least 11 extra years of life” with her family.
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