Chat which could save seven lives

Elaine Lovie from Irvine.
Elaine Lovie from Irvine.

If you want to be an organ donor, don’t keep it to yourself.

By saying the seven words, ‘I’d like to be an organ donor’, up to seven lives can be saved.

Although Scotland has the highest percentage of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register in the UK, talking about your organ donation wishes can make all the difference.

Over the last five years, almost two thirds of people who donated their organs in Scotland weren’t actually on the Register at the time of their death.

So it’s important to consider your wishes and let loved ones know what you want to happen to you. It could mean the world to the 600 people in Scotland currently waiting on a life-saving transplant.

When Elaine Lovie, 49, from Irvine, jetted off to Portugal for a holiday with her partner, Raymond, she had no idea her life was about to take such a dramatic turn.

Mum of two Elaine said: “When I was on holiday I felt like something wasn’t quite right, but I just thought it was a urine infection and was determined not to let it ruin my holiday. I went to a local pharmacy and got some cystitis medication and thought no more of it.”

When Elaine returned, she discovered there was something much more seriously wrong.

She said: “We arrived home on the Friday and I felt just the same. But on the Saturday morning, I woke up absolutely drenched in sweat and I knew something was wrong. I didn’t feel well at all. Raymond rushed me straight to A&E where I was told that I was jaundiced. I was taken straight to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock so that doctors could run tests and hopefully get to the bottom of what was wrong with me.

“By the following day, my bowel had perforated and the damage had affected my kidneys. I was told I needed to be transferred to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to undergo a biopsy, but I wasn’t physically well enough to even make the journey for another two weeks.”

When Elaine eventually arrived, doctors carried out a biopsy along with other various tests to assess the extent of the damage caused. The next day Elaine received the devastating news.

She said: “I was told that although my kidneys and perforated bowel were healing, my liver was barely functioning. The doctor prepared me for the worst. I was told that I had a very slim chance of making it through the weekend.”

At this point, as her condition was so severe, Elaine was put on the urgent waiting list for a liver transplant. However, there was little chance of an organ becoming available when time was so limited.

“Loads of my friends and family came to visit me in hospital and I said goodbye to each one of them. I was thinking I would never see them again.”

Whilst coming to terms with the overwhelming news, Elaine was told that a liver had become available and that it could potentially be a suitable match.

She went through all the necessary tests and after an agonising wait, Elaine found out that the liver was in fact suitable. She underwent surgery that same day, less than 48 hours after being placed on the waiting list.

Elaine said: “When I woke up after the operation, I couldn’t fully comprehend what I had just gone through. It all happened so quickly.

“I just remember looking around and thinking ‘I’m going to be OK’. I didn’t realise how ill I had actually been until I had the transplant. “I felt like a new person. Everyone commented on how well I looked compared to how I was before the transplant. My eyes had been yellow and sunken but after the surgery I looked instantly healthier.”

To this day, doctors are still unable to fully explain what happened to Elaine. It is likely that there had been an underlying problem which went unnoticed for some time, but it’s impossible to say for definite.

Elaine said: “I’m so grateful to my donor. They’ve given me such an amazing gift.”

To find out more about organ donation and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit “http://www.organdonationscotland.org”