Life Stories

Darren Sellars: a milestone reached

I received a double lung transplant in April 2011 due to Cystic Fibrosis.

When I was listed, I was told that I wouldn't see Christmas 2011 unless I received a transplant very soon.  My lung function was less than 10%.  I think one of the hardest parts was the doctor suggesting I write my Will - not something I had thought of at 24 years old!

I was on the list for around two weeks when I got my chance; it was my first call too, no dry runs.  I was blue-lighted to Newcastle Freeman Hospital late at night.  

It was a long night of taking bloods and X-rays whilst they checked whether the lungs were viable.  By eight o'clock the next morning, the surgeon came to say that the lungs were suitable and the operation would go ahead.  I had to shower in the pink hibbiscrub stuff, get into my gown and sign my consent.

Shortly before eleven that morning, the porter came for me and I was wheeled down to the theatre area with tears in my eyes; I was finally getting my second chance at life.

When I awoke I was in ITU, struggling with the ventilator, trying to breathe for myself.  I will always remember the radio in my room playing "Goodbye To Love" by The Carpenters.  Every time I hear that song now it takes me straight back to that room.  They said they would take me off the ventilator but if I struggled, they would have to put me back on it.  They took it out and I took my first breath for myself.  It was unbelievable - I could breathe!  It hurt like hell, but I could breathe. The next day they had me out of bed and into a chair.  Later that day I was moved to the ward.  The rest is a bit of a blur.  I remember the pain and, over the next week, the nurses removing the various tubes from my body: catheter, chest drains and some cannulas.  I saw the physio every day.  At first they had me marching on the spot a few times every hour, then slowly walking around my bed and then, when I was allowed out of my room five or so days later, we started walking up and down the ward, building my strength.  The week after it was the stairs.  Within two weeks I was allowed home.  I had been in hospital for a month.

After around nine months of recovery and regular clinics, I started looking for work.  I got a job working in a kitchen, cooking breakfasts and dinners for office staff, which I really enjoyed.  Whilst doing that, I started volunteering for St John Ambulance, gaining loads of First Aid Certificates and Ambulance Driving certificates.  I stayed in the kitchen job for two years until an opening became available with a Patient Transport role with a private ambulance firm and there I gained more qualifications until last year when I joined East Midlands Ambulance Service.

My health was reasonably good until I caught flu in January 2016 - which caused me to go into chronic rejection.  I am stable now, taking a break from work to focus on my health as I don't want to start declining.

I always said I wanted to give something back after my transplant.  That's why I joined the ambulance service, transporting cancer patients to their treatments and making sure people got to their appointments at various hospitals.  I even saved two heart attack victims, performing CPR.  When I can get my health back on track I want to progress further in the service.

Every day I would like to thank my donor and their family for giving me this chance.  My 30th birthday has been a milestone I never thought I would reach.

Thank you for reading my story.  Happy New Year to you all.

Darren Sellars