Woman becomes third person to survive six-organ transplant in U.K.
'There isn't a day goes by without me thinking of that person's gift to me,' she says
Transplanting six organs into a 53-year-old woman in 17 hours of surgery. Dawn Carter has become only the third patient in Britain to survive such a procedure. She now has a new liver, kidney, pancreas, stomach, small intestine and colon. "There isn't a day goes by without me thinking of that person's gift to me," Carter says. "I sometimes joke that there's more of her in me than there is of me."
One consultant was required to retrieve Dawn's organs while three consultants to perform the implants, which all came from a 20-year-old female donor.
Carter, an intensive care nurse from Northallerton, North Yorkshire had been suffering from a serious liver disease and had been given just six months to live. "I'm obviously meant to be here," she says.
Diagnosed with Cohn's disease at the age of 19, she underwent an operation to remove part of her colon at Leeds General Infirmary ten years later.
Her problems continued and Dawn needed several more operations, which eventually left her with just five per cent of her intestine, her only option to receive all nutrition and fluids intravenously.
Dawn along with her partner Martin, who are keen motorsports fans, travelled to various Formula 1 events and spent several holidays in the United States.
Carter was told in 2011 that her liquidized food had been damaging her liver and she had end-stage liver disease. Referred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, her only chance of survival was a multi-organ transplant.
"It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't get a transplant," Carter says. Two days before Christmas 2011, she was told the organs had become available.
"I didn't hold any fear about the operation," she remembers. "In the anesthetic room I thought, "This might be the last time I am alive". But I felt fortunate I was getting this chance."
Carter is one of three people in the UK to survive a six-organ transplant in one operation. The first survivor was Stephen Hyett, who received a new liver, kidney, stomach, duodenum, pancreas and small bowel in 1994.
Out of the 88,052 transplants that have taken place in Britain, fewer than 30 have involved three or more organs being transplanted at once.
Dawn spent nine weeks on a ventilator in intensive care, with Martin, her mother Dorothy and her brother Larry by her side. She needed a further 12 operations to rectify complications, which included bleeding from her new liver and pancreas. She also required a 17-pint blood transfusion.
After more than five months in hospital, Dawn went home last May. She takes 18 tablets a day - immunosuppressant drugs, antibiotics, enzymes and multi-vitamins.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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