Up until the age of 29, Sue Haskins-Southcott was fit, well and healthy. At 29, she went on holiday to the seaside where, after eating some seafood, she became unwell, her skin turned yellow and she developed a rash. Sue visited her GP, who initially diagnosed eczema, but after two weeks without improvement she was sent to hospital for tests.
At hospital, Sue was told that she had liver failure and only had months to live. Tests showed that she had got Hepatits A and B. Hepatitis occurs when the liver becomes swollen, and this is often caused by a virus.
Sue became increasingly ill and was soon too weak to walk, however a liver was found for her and she received her first transplant. This was back in 1995 when Sue was 29.
After her transplant, Sue’s body started to reject her liver, but medication helped to stop the rejection. Sue spent eight months in hospital before returning home.
Since her transplant, Sue has been back to hospital for a number of problems including pneumonia and lung disease. On one of these visits she met someone who told her about the Transplant Games. She applied to take part and won four medals in the 1996 games.
Sadly, in 2005 Sue’s body started to reject the liver. Sue said: “This was a difficult and depressing time. I felt that I was unlikely to survive and needed counselling to help get me through the depression.”
By 2006, Sue had been readmitted to hospital and was assessed for a second liver transplant. She was placed on the transplant list and was told that, without a transplant, she had only three months to live.
In August 2006, Sue had her second liver transplant and returned home within eight weeks. Sue said: “My first donor was a 42-year-old male who died of a brain tumour; my second donor was a woman who had died in a road traffic accident.
“I wrote to both the donor families and I get in touch with them each Christmas. I am incredible grateful to them as, without the transplants, I would not be here today.”
Sue has been an active part of the Birmingham Adult Transplant Sport team, and urges transplant recipients to “get on with life and enjoy it as much as possible, as I did!”