Golf lover Mandy was saved by a transplant
EXCLUSIVE My third-hand liver: Golf lover Mandy was saved by a transplant from a man who received the same organ WEEKS earlier before he suddenly died
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Many people have transplant operations nowadays, but keen golfer Mandy Ambert is only the 11th in the world to receive a recycled liver that had already been donated once.
The organ given to the 67-year-old came from a man who died soon after receiving it in a liver and heart transplant just weeks before.
Mrs Ambert, who lives with her husband, Jean-Louis, 73, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, said: ‘It’s remarkable to think that my donated liver had also saved a life before it was given to me.
‘I’m incredibly humbled that someone had to lose their own life to give me this gift.’
Mrs Ambert was diagnosed in 2007 with primary biliary cholangitis, an autoimmune disease in which the bile ducts become injured or inflamed, causing liver damage.
Many people have transplant operations nowadays, but keen golfer Mandy Ambert is only the 11th in the world to receive a recycled liver that had already been donated once
Mrs Ambert was diagnosed in 2007 with primary biliary cholangitis, an autoimmune disease in which the bile ducts become injured or inflamed, causing liver damage
She took medication to halt the effects, but was eventually diagnosed with two tumours on her liver and needed a transplant.
She said: ‘I didn’t feel ill at that stage, but the fatigue was crippling. I’d put it down to looking after my parents, who were ill at the time.’
After three false alarms in March and April this year, when livers were found but then declared unsuitable just before transplant, Mrs Ambert eventually got a fourth call to say that a match had been found.
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However, it was an incredibly unusual case. The liver had actually come from a man who had been a transplant recipient himself.
She said: ‘Tragically, the man, who was in his 30s, had suffered sudden death, and his family made the brave decision to donate the liver.
‘The surgeon operating on me performed the earlier transplant using the same liver. He reassured me the liver was in a perfect condition.’
In a normal transplant, there is a risk of rejection because the recipient’s immune system can treat the donated organ like a foreign object and attack it. But in Mrs Ambert’s case, there were three hosts involved – the original donor, the first recipient and herself, so the likelihood of rejection was greater.
Mrs Ambert, who was operated on at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, said: ‘I did get an episode of rejection in August and had to be admitted to hospital. I was given further anti-rejection medication and fortunately it worked.
‘Because I’m one of the first cases of its kind in the world, they have no case records or protocol to refer to, but the hospital is very good at keeping a close eye on me and the doctors have done an amazing job.’
Mrs Ambert, who has a daughter, Suzanne, 32, from her first marriage, and a son, Louis, 24, with her husband, has now made a full recovery, and is back doing her job with a golfing magazine, as well as being back out on the links.
She said: ‘There are risks with anti-rejection drugs, which I will have to be on for the rest of my life. But nothing can compare with the gift of life that a transplant brings. I feel incredibly lucky to have received such a gift, and that I’ve made such a good recovery.’
Queen Elizabeth Hospital said the operation was ‘exceedingly rare worldwide’ and it was the first time it had been performed there.
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