New mum given the "gift of life" through double transplant

Sara Stiller with her daughter Ellie Amelia and husband David
Sara Stiller with her daughter Ellie Amelia and husband David
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A borough mum, who is one of only dozens to have given birth after a double transplant, is backing the campaign for organ donation following the death of fellow organ recipient Dave Hughes.

Sara Stiller, 31, is urging people to sign the donor register, saying that her kidney and pancreas transplants “gave her chance to live”, marry her husband David and bring her daughter into the world.

The Hindley mum-of-one, who gave birth to her daughter Ellie Amelia Stiller four months ago - said that her life since the operation has been “absolutely amazing”.

Sara, who was diagnosed with diabetes at nine years of age following complications from a serious viral infection, received her double transplant just five years ago.

“Imagine sitting at home and getting a phone call from hospital saying you are not the first choice, you are second choice,” she said. “But they say we have organs ready you need to come.

“You pack all your things, go to the hospital and it doesn’t happen. It was the seventh time I was called up that I got the transplant.”

The transplant process saw Sara paired with another recipient who was also in need of a kidney and a pancreas.

“I would get the call,” she said. “And then the organs wouldn’t go to me. For one reason or another they would go to my donor partner.

“It was either that or the kidney or the pancreas that had come in wouldn’t be quite up to scratch.

“An example is if you have 50 people who all donated a certain organ, out of every single one of those 50 people there may only be 10 that can be used.

“It’s absolutely heart breaking having to sit there and someone says you could die if this doesn’t come in. That’s the scariest part.”

Following her operation, Sara was told that her organs had come from a 64-year-old, but due to data protection, she was not able to find out more information about the donor.

She was on the organ donor register for two years, after complications from the diabetes caused kidney failure.

As her conditioned worsened, Sara was eventually put on dialysis at the age of 24, finally receiving the new organs at 26. She would have died without the transplant as the dialysis had become less effective.

After recovering, Sara met her husband David and the two went on to conceive Ellie through IVF.

“I always wanted a family,” she said. “I am so grateful that my organ donation could happen. It’s absolutely life-changing and mine has been absolutely amazing since.

“Everyone who can should donate. Save a life, once you are gone someone else can keep living theirs.”

David, Sara’s husband has signed up to be an organ donor, and Sara plans to register Ellie in the near future, but unfortunately she herself is no longer eligible to donate organs due to the immunosuppresant drugs she has to take daily to stay alive.

Sara contacted the Leigh Observer after hearing of the tragic death of Dave Hughes, who died just three months after a heart transplant.

“That story about Dave who lost his battle and made others become donors has really touched me,” she said. “I want to tell my story so that people can see organ donation is amazing.”

At the moment, England operates an opt-in system, where anyone wishing to donate their organs must sign the donor register.

To sign the register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk