Transplant Week stories: Teacher, 26, given six months to live now loving life thanks to double lung transplant

“When I was put on the list, they gave me six months to live and not all the antibiotics were working.”

This was the stark reality Kieran Miller, 26, had to face when his life-long battle with cystic fibrosis (CF), reached a critical point earlier this year.

He had suffered from the genetically-inherited disease, with affects people’s lungs and digestive system, since birth and had already endured years of medication and therapy to manage his condition.

“I couldn’t do what normal kids did,” explained the Preston North End fan. “I was on medication, and couldn’t go out on school trips and the things most kids do.

BATTLING THE CONDITION: Kieran received a new pair of lungs in May

“But my health really started to deteriorate in in my twenties. In 2012-13 things got really bad, I was in and out of hospital, on IVs (intravenous antibiotics), but even they stopped working for me.”

Kieran was forced to give up his job as a teaching assistant at Preston special school Sir Tom Finney Community High School, as CF took its toll, and working with children put him at greater risk of picking up infections.

While he was on the waiting list Kieran was dependent on an oxygen concentrator to keep him breathing and intravenous antibiotics to try to keep infections at bay.

Fortunately he received a pair of new lungs after a relatively short wait of 11 weeks on the list. The main image shows Kieran with his cousin on the first day he managed to tackle a flight of stairs.

Kieran has experienced some ‘hiccups’ following the operation which his medical team plan to address soon.

Despite the complications, Kieran said that things are much better than before and now enjoys seeing his mates, playing pool and living a normal life again.

He hopes his quality of life will improve still further after he undergoes an operation to correct some post-transplant complications.

Despite all of this Kieran is one of the lucky ones. Tragically one in three people on the transplant list will die before they get paired up with a suitable organ.

This week is National Transplant Week and NHS Blood and Transplant are urging people to sign the Organ Donor Register and let their families know their wishes

And those who do receive a transplant can find their lives not just saved, but transformed – often after a long, gruelling wait for that all-important call.

Shaun Fletcher, 21, from Glossop, was also born with cystic fibrosis and endured a ‘nervy’ five-month wait for a new pair of lungs.

Fortunately suitable organs were found for him and he received a double lung transplant in May.

AMAZING: Shaun’s delighted with his new lungs

Shaun is now recovering well, and told MM: “It’s amazing what a decent pair of lungs can do, although at the moment I’m not allowed to do anything to strenuous.

“Being able to walk and just go out with friends is just awesome.  Pre-transplant to go out I’d have to make sure that I would have had enough oxygen to help me get about, even then it was a lot of effort and very tiring.

“Now it’s more my legs that are giving me problems walking about not getting breathless need to strengthen my muscles up.”

Carla Phillips, North West advocate for transplant charity Live Life Then Give Life (LLTGL), suffered a series of streptococcal infections when she was a child.

At 19 doctors told Carla that her kidneys had been destroyed beyond repair and she would have to start dialysis to remove toxins from her blood.

Like her teenage friendship group, Carla was interested in theatre studies and drama, but could not join them as they went on to college and university.

BRAVE: Carla smiles for the camera during a hospital visit

She describes her time on dialysis as ‘just functioning’ and remembers her 21stbirthday as a ‘complete disaster’.

Later that year, however, she received the kidney transplant that changed her life.

“It’s a huge change when you have a transplant,” Carla told MM. “You suddenly have all the choices in life that most people take for granted.”

However in 2006, 14 years after her first transplant, she was told that her kidney function had deteriorated to such a level that she would have to start dialysis again.

Her boyfriend (now husband) Peter wanted to be a kidney donor for Carla – an idea she was extremely reluctant to go along with.

HAPPY TIMES: Carla with husband Peter

But then the transplant co-ordinator at her hospital suggested they should go in for a ‘paired donation’ – where kidneys are matched to other couples in the same situation.

Despite her initial reluctance when asked by her surgeon if she would offer a kidney to Peter in the same situation, she replied ‘in a heartbeat’.

Her future husband’s response was a curt ‘well shut up then!’

A matching couple was eventually found and Carla’s second transplant went ahead on June 2, 2010.

Since receiving her second transplant Carla has gone on to compete in the British Transplant Games, winning gold, silver and bronze medals in archery.

MEDAL WINNER: Carla posing with Peter and her awards

She will compete in this year’s games in Bolton, where she will again compete in the archery event as well as four other sports, including soft cricket and ten-pin bowling.

Like many other transplant recipients Carla is now passionate about promoting organ donation, and became an advocate for LLTGL after her second transplant.

“Everyone had been so fabulous and I just wanted to raise awareness,” Carla told MM.

“When LLTGL train you it is really, really helpful and after that I was nominated by a fellow transplant patient that I know and they accepted me.”

Despite only receiving his double-lung transplant in May, Kieran has already been urging people to sign the Organ Donor Register.

He said: “As soon as I had the operation I got on Instagram and Twitter and I managed to get 30 people to sign up for it and post their cards on the sites to show that they are donors.”

On Monday MM featured Salford musician and double lung transplant recipient Dane Pollard, who has organised the ‘Lungfest’ event to raise funds and awareness of organ donation.

As well as pursuing his passion for music with his band Modern Sound Library and setting up his own recording business, Dane also married his fiancée Emma in March.

MILESTONE: Dane with wife Emma

He said: “Five years post-transplant is such a milestone I really never thought I would see this day.

“That organ donor saved not just my life but a number of lives it’s the greatest legacy you can leave.”

Carla agreed and added: “Bringing a person back from the brink, from misery and very real possibility of death, is a power you hold in the palm of your hand.

“A two-minute form could change up to eight people’s lives. You have nothing to lose, and – because you are much more likely to need an organ than to donate – everything to gain from everyone being on the register. Please sign up today.”

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