Darren Sellars: a milestone reached3 December 2016
I always said I wanted to give something back after my transplant and that’s why I joined the ambulance service. I think I have given a little back, transporting cancer patients to their treatments and making sure people got to their appointments at various hospitals, even to the point of actually saving lives.
I’m Darren; I will be 30 on New Year’s Day 2017 and I received a Double Lung Transplant, on Easter Sunday, 24th April 2011 due to Cystic Fibrosis.
When I was listed, I was told that if I didn’t get a transplant soon, I wouldn’t see Christmas 2011 as my lung function was less than 10%. I think one of the hardest parts was the doctor suggesting I write a will. Not something really 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. I had all bloods, and X-rays done when I got there whilst they were checking to see if the lungs were viable. It was a long night waiting; at eight o’clock the next morning the surgeon came to see me to say that the lungs were suitable and the operation was going ahead within the next couple of hours. I had to shower in the pink hibbiscrub stuff, get into my gown and sign my consent.
Shortly before 11.00 that morning, the porter came for me and I was wheeled down to the theatre area, tears in my eyes as I was finally getting my second chance at life. I went into the anaesthetic room, saw the team and then it was time. They put BP Cuff, SATs probe and oxygen on. They cannulated me and fit an arterial line too. They put the drugs into me and I drifted off.
Then I woke up, ventilated, in ITU, struggling with the ventilator, trying to breathe for myself. I will always remember: they had a radio on in my ITU room and the first song I heard was 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.
They kept me in ITU overnight and 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 I was in and, over the following week, the nurses removing the various tube work 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; 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 following week it was the stairs. I was in hospital for a month, even though it felt longer.
After about 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’s 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, where I gained more qualifications, until last year when I joined East Midlands Ambulance Service.
My health was reasonably good, until I caught the flu in January 2016; that caused me to go into chronic rejection. I am stable now, taking a break from work to focus on my health a little more as I don’t want to start declining.
I always said I wanted to give something back after my transplant and that’s why I joined the ambulance service. I think I have given a little back, transporting cancer patients to their treatments and making sure people got to their appointments at various hospitals, even to the point of actually saving lives – I saved two heart attack victims and I had to perform CPR too. I would go back to it in a shot. When I can get my health back on track, I want to progress further in the service.
I would like to thank my donor and their family for giving me this chance. I thank them every day and will even more so on my 30th birthday – a milestone I never thought I would reach.
Thank you for reading my story.