A Staff Nurse working at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has spoken of the importance of registering for organ donation after a donated heart saved her son’s life.
Anne Alderson, from Thornton, who has worked in the gynaecology department at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for four years, has lived through the donation journey after son Ollie received the live saving heart transplant when he was 11 years old.
Anne said: “Ollie was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease affecting the heart muscle and received a transplant in July 2016 after spending months in hospital awaiting a life-saving transplant, first at Liverpool’s Alder Hey then at the Newcastle Freeman. Five years later, he is doing tremendously well.”
Ollie is currently being able to maintain a normal day to day life though he will have life long, three-monthly follow ups for his heart, including blood checks, ECG and ECHO reviews to check his donated heart is still functioning well and an annual CT scan to check the heart isn’t being rejected by his body.
He currently has this follow up alternately at Alder Hey and Newcastle Freeman Hospital. Once he turns 18, his care will be transferred to Wythenshawe Hospital.
Anne said: “Since Ollie received his new heart, his hospital appointments have decreased in frequency and he has gone from strength to strength.
“He had been on an immunoglobulin infusion post-transplant as when he rejected his donor heart a week after receiving it and arrested four times, he was given such intense drugs to try and stop the rejection that it completely blew his immune system, and he was severely immunosuppressed following this.
“He has recently stopped this infusion as his immune system has hopefully slowly kicked back into action over the last five years, and we are currently awaiting his blood results and review by his immunologist to see if the weekly infusion I gave him at home, can be stopped permanently, which will be great news.”
As Ollie was on the extremely clinically vulnerable list, he had to shield as advised by the government during Covid, which was very isolating and difficult for such a young boy, made more difficult as he was in his last couple of GCSE years. But he coped admirably and never moaned and accepted why and what he had to do to keep himself safe.
Anne said: “In the early stages, due to the unknown, I stayed off work for four months as I didn’t want to put him at any increased risk by going into the hospital. We’ve all had to be extra careful to help protect him with Ollie, mum and dad all doubly vaccinated and his 14 year-old brother having his first vaccination recently.”
Having achieved fantastic GCSE results and despite missing over a year of schooling due to his illness/ transplant, Ollie has started Blackpool Sixth Form college studying Maths Statistics, Economics and Financial Studies.
Anne added: “I would plead with people to keep opted in on the organ donation register as without someone’s selfless act at their time of despair, Ollie would no longer be with us.
“We will be forever grateful to the person who donated the organ and always be in their debt. All our family, extended family and many close friends are on the organ donation register as we would all like to give somebody the same chance we have been given of an extended and enhanced life with a loved one.
“Once a life sadly ends, organs that are no longer of use to us, can help to extend and improve the quality of someone else’s life, like Ollie, allowing others to enjoy a much longer, healthier, happier life.”
You can follow Ollie’s journey, as well as his fantastic fundraising efforts, through a special Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Olliesventure
20-26 September 2021 is Organ Donation Week. If you would like to know more about organ donation, go to: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/