Will I still be me? – Diana Sanders
Priced at: £8.99
On Tuesday, 11th July I was honoured to be invited to the launch of a new book “Will I Still Be Me? A journey through a transplant”, written by Diana Sanders, a GUCH patient who lives in Oxford with her husband Mo. It is based on the anxieties of waiting for, having, recovering and renewing her life after having a heart and lung transplant.
As usual I arrived too early, but this tends to happen when relying on local bus transport, after all I’d much rather arrive too early than late!
After walking around the lovely gardens of the Oriel College in Oxford where we were meeting, I was soon spotted and invited into the preparations by Diana.
After being introduced to Diana’s husband Mo, her mother, brother and one of her sisters, amongst some others, I soon found myself chatting to complete strangers while the final preparations were made. (My husband Steven often says that I will talk to anyone!!)
Some very interesting talks were given, including about the history of Papworth Hospital and how donor procedures were started in England in 1973, by Sir Terence English. Papworth Hospital now has the best reputation for heart-lung transplants in the world.
The main problem in the future seems to be a supply in donors, so we are all encouraged to persuade as many people as possible to take the issue of donating their organs seriously, and not just their hearts and lungs, these days kidneys, livers and corneas can be used. But people must be aware that they need to be registered, and not just carry a card, and also need to discuss their wishes with their close relatives. If they are aware that their loved one wants to be an organ donor, they do not have to make the decision at the terrible time of an unexpected death.
Mechanical hearts are being developed, but more to give the heart a rest and time to recover, rather than a long-term alternative to real hearts. Xenotransplantation, using animal organs, such as pigs’ still has a long way to go because of the very real risks of introducing new diseases into the human population. So, at the moment, we need far more organ donors.
Another interesting talk was on the importance of patients’ stories. Dr Ann McPherson, an Oxford GP and also Medical Director of DIPEx, explained about the feelings patients have on coping with their medical conditions, making decisions and generally living life as best as possible. DIPEx, part of the University of Oxford, has a website covering a number of medical conditions. People are interviewed across the country to make sure that all experiences — good and bad, physical and psychological — are represented on the website. DIPEx, (www.dipex.org.uk) already includes a module on heart conditions in children and Diana and Ann are working together to set up a new module on heart and lung transplants. It might be good in future to have a module for adults with congenital heart conditions.
I ended a very interesting day rather tired after doing a great deal of talking, taking notes and eating! I finally walked back through the historical streets of Oxford to find the bus stop to catch the bus that would take me home!
Naturally I did buy a copy of Diana Sanders book, and I have found it a joy to read. A lot of the memories that Diana describes of her very early years are bringing very similar ones back to me, as we are a similar age! I am sure that many GUCH’s would find it an inspiration to read. ‘Will I Still Be Me? A journey through a transplant’ by Diana Sanders is published by Day Books ISBN 0953 221285. It can be purchased from amazon.co.uk or order from bookshops, at the cost of £8.99, and well worth every penny!