Year long wait for Sheffield lung transplant patient

Pictured is Christine Thornton at home in, Alexandra Road,Aston
Pictured is Christine Thornton at home in, Alexandra Road,Aston

MUM-of-two Christine Thornton knows the agony of waiting for a life-saving lung transplant.

She has been left barely able to brush her own teeth, forced to give up her job and sleep downstairs, by a genetic disorder which is gradually reducing the function of her lungs.

For almost a year the 45-year-old has been on the NHS Organ Donor Register waiting for a transplant that will give her a second chance at life.

And, to back The Star’s Gift of Life campaign to recruit 12,000 more organ donors, she is writing a Star blog about her experience.

Former supermarket worker Christine, of Alexandra Road, Aston, Sheffield, said: “When you are first put on the waiting list you are constantly waiting for the phone to ring at first, then you get used to it.

“You try to be patient and say to yourself, ‘If it happens it happens’.

“But even when I get calls from the register to see how I am you do think, ‘This could be it’.”

Christine has a condition called alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency.

It means her body does not make enough of a protein that protects the lungs, and sometimes liver, from damage.

She always believed she had asthma and, on hitting her thirties, that it was just getting worse with being unfit.

But when Christine visited a doctor he confirmed she already had the lungs of a 70-year-old.

“At that point I got out of breath climbing up the stairs,” she said.

“I can’t really do that much now, I’m struggling just getting out of bed.

“Even just brushing my teeth sometimes means I have to sit down.”

Recently Christine did receive a call offering a transplant but the lungs turned out not to be suitable.

Christine, who has a long list of things she hopes to achieve after the operation, including a dream holiday in Kenya, hopes her blog will encourage more people to sign up to the register before the Westfield Health British Transplant Games in Sheffield this August.

She said: “I will sign up to be an organ donor too because I can give something else - only my lungs are affected.

“I know it’s not a nice thing to think about, that someone has to die so I can be healthy.

“But I know what it is like to wait, and I want to give somebody else that chance at life.”

* Signing up can be done online at Organ Donation by texting SAVE to 84118 or by calling 0300 123 23 23.

* Joining the register records your agreement to the use of your organs and tissue for transplantation after your death.

* Tell your family. Almost half of donors’ intentions cannot be honoured because families are unaware of their wishes.

* Only 31 per cent of Britons are on the NHS organ donor register.

* The Transplant Games will take place in Sheffield between August 15 and 18.