Liver Transplant

Here are some continuing e-mails from Ivor describing the time of the Liver Transplant.


Tuesday, 15 August 2000 13:32
I have just come from the Auckland Hospital, and as I write this Bethli is in surgery. Last night [Monday] around 7.30pm [NZ] Bethli was unexpectedly called by the transplant team to be told that they had a suitable liver available!

Needless to say there followed a hectic couple of hours getting things ready and getting to the hospital.

The surgery was initially scheduled to start at 5am today [Tue 15th] but she eventually went into theatre around 7.15.

When last I heard the actual surgery had not started, although I am expecting an update at any time. The first task for the surgeons is to locate appropriate veins and ensure that they can attach the liver. They were expecting to be a few hours getting to this stage.

So, as of right now all is progressing on schedule, and I will send another brief update whenever I get further news. If all goes well the operation is not expected to finish for at least another 7-8 hours, and then Bethli will be in intensive care for some time before being returned to the liver unit.


Tuesday, 15 August 2000 16:05
The latest from the theatre is that all is progressing well.

The new liver is in and it appears to be working already. The pressure in the heart is dropping, which is very good news, and right now they are sewing her back up again. It seems she may be out of the operation sooner than expected, perhaps as soon as 4.30!

I will try and get out a final update before the end of the day.

My hard working liver that was removed.
The diseased liver that was removed, August 2000


Wednesday, 16 August 2000 11:19
Bethli woke up yesterday evening [in 6 West], and was very aware of her visitors, although largely unable to communicate due to the high number of attachments - drains, probes, drips etc., that she has everywhere.

Her blood pressure is already dropping, which is seen as very good news, and other vital signs are good.

Around 4am this morning there was a scare over some internal bleeding and she was taken back into theatre. After a 2 hour operation it has been announced that the problem, which is not too uncommon, had been identified and fixed, and she was sewn back up again.  [The surgeons were more concerned about my heart surviving this operation than the transplant itself, as it was a lot of pressure on an overworked organ].

Right now she is back in intensive care, where Robin is waiting for her to wake up. It is expected that she will be awake and with us again by lunchtime and I will try and get and update before the end of the afternoon.


Thursday, 17 August 2000 21:12
Just a short note to say that I have just come from the Intensive Care Unit and all is going extremely well.

Bethli has been sitting up in bed all day, and has not stopped smiling since she first woke up. She is very happy to be alive, and extremely grateful for all the goodwill flowing in from everyone.

As to her progress, she has already lost most of the tubes, with the last major one due to come of her neck tonight. She was able to talk for the first time earlier today, and although only a painful sounding whisper is coming out, she has apparently not stopped talking all day, all the time through the big beaming grin. The medical team have all been in, and are extremely pleased with her progress. All her bodily functions are fast heading towards normal and she is starting to look quite healthy, something that is very hard to believe after the events of the last few days.

When I left they were expecting to have her try a short walk back to the bed later this evening! If the last major tubes do indeed come out tonight then the other surprise is that she will possibly be returning to her 'normal' liver ward by this time tomorrow. Everyone is so pleased with her progress that I fully expect this to happen.

As yet Bethli is unable to use her phone, and it is likely to be some time before she has access to her email. However, she is thinking of you all, and looking forward to the day when she can get back in touch. I can't imagine that will be too far away!!!


Thursday, 24 August 2000 19:40
Well, after the excitement of getting the new liver has come the reality of recovery. Bethli recently left intensive care and is in a dedicated liver ward. She finally had the last of the many tubes removed earlier in the week, and is now able to talk, albeit somewhat painfully.

This means she is eating, breathing etc. largely unaided, although she still can only cope with fairly soft foods and has an oxygen feed to aid her recovery. She is gradually becoming mobile and will be shortly starting sessions with the physio in the 'gym' !!

However, she is still extremely weak, and has a fair way to go before 'normal' bodily functions return. Therefore she is still not up to seeing people, and even family are keeping visits to a minimum. It is hoped that she will be able to start seeing people from sometime after this weekend, and as soon as she agrees, I will let you all know. She really is missing you all, and looking forward to getting back in contact - sadly even her phone is not an option just at the moment.

One big hurdle was crossed yesterday. It is quite 'normal' for there to be rejection problems after the first week, but a recent biopsy has indicated that both patient and liver are continuing to make good progress, and the prognosis and the moment is very good. The medical team continue to be very pleased with her, as she does with herself.

One problem she faces at the moment is that the initial drug regime that was keeping her happy and largely free of pain is being removed, and so she is starting to feel quite sore, and the smile is that much harder for her to maintain. None the less she continues to do all she can to keep it there, and apart from a few bruises and needle marks, she is starting to look quite well. Her colour is returning to normal and her spirits remain high.

If there are any major developments I will send them out, but otherwise I will write again next week.  [At this time I was getting very sleep deprived as the drug regime I was on was causing almost psychotic psychedelic nightmares and I was too scared to sleep - as I could not move off my back and I had to sleep sitting up, I spent the night looking at the pictures of a TV with no sound to keep the nightmares at bay].


Wednesday, 30 August 2000 18:54
Loads of major developments have happened since the last update.

On Saturday there was a major imbalance in the drugs which led to Bethli being asleep and un-visitable all day. Then, during Sunday, she gradually recovered, and was back to normal by the evening.

Monday, she was so well that she drew up a timetable covering her day, and allocated various things into it, including visiting times, drug taking times and visits to the gym! Therefore, those people who would like to visit can now do so, and the preferred timeslots are: 3pm-4pm, 5pm-6pm and 7pm-8pm, although she is actually there at other times as well and so please go when you can. Bethli's cellphone is now back on again and so she can be contacted that way as well.

Although the doctors were extremely pleased with this improvement, things continued to improve rapidly and they are now all walking around with large smiles. Yesterday she managed to take herself to the shower for the first time, and by lunchtime today, the wound had healed so well that all the staples were taken out!! There can no doubt that she is extremely well for someone who is less than two weeks from a major operation. She is also right back on form mentally, despite still being very weak physically, and so is really looking for things to keep her mind exercised, which don't involve too much physical exertion [although she does have at least two daily sessions in the gym scheduled, and is starting to walk about the place already].

I have just heard that it is extremely likely that she will be leaving Auckland Hospital next Wednesday and going to Green Lane for some tests, and that from there she is going to be sent home. Therefore it is very likely that she will be contactable at home from the end of next week. It also means that there will be a need to start scheduling people to be with her for the following several weeks, and so, as was mentioned earlier, if anyone is able to spare some days, I am certain that Robin would love to hear from you.

Anyway, that is enough for now I think. It seems that the new liver has taken very well indeed to its new home, and Bethli is clearly fitter now than she has been for a long time. I will be passing on to her the many emails that have come in over the last few weeks, and I am certain you will all be hearing from her just as soon as she can get her fingers at a keyboard.


Wednesday, 6 September 2000 09:22
By the time you read this Bethli will no longer be in Ward 7. She is being discharged from hospital first thing this morning after having continued her impressive recovery. She is first moving to Green Lane as an outpatient and from there will be going home sometime late this afternoon!

This means that she will be contactable at home from tomorrow [Thursday]. She will also be getting back to her email system from this evening, and will probably be in touch with people shortly after that.

It is likely therefore that this will be the last bulletin from me.

Many thanks to everyone for all your support throughout this period.

As you can see, Ivor did a marvelous job at keeping everyone updated.

I would like to mention now that I owe a huge thank you to a number of people.  

First of all, the donor family who made the awesome decision to give me the gift of life through their loved one's liver.  This is an incredible decision to make at a time in their lives of major stress and sorrow, and whoever my donor family is, I can never ever thank them enough.

Secondly, all the New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit team, who did not have to list me for transplant, as I was in the "too hard" basket - thank you for taking the risk and the massive amount of work that you have, and continue, to put into my care and recovery.

I got more support that I can begin to acknowledge from my Mother Robin, and my boyfriend Ivor.  Without them it would have been a lot harder in 2000.  I can't begin to imagine the stress that this has been for them.  The huge amount of time that they spent at the hospital and my home, and the enormous amount of running around they did.  Thank you both so much.  My poor cat, Ptoli, would not be alive now, if Ivor hadn't been his major feeder during my hospitalisation periods, driving out of his way late at night after visiting me.

Mmm...those look like tasty feet!
Ptoli, trying to catch unwary passersby

I also received enormous support from friends, family and work colleagues.

My employer at that time (The Lawlink Group Ltd) were supportive and of great assistance, thank you!