At our rather sparsely attended AGM, there appeared a figure dressed in 'ward-robes', with a small retinue of followers, together making up the bulk of the meeting. 'Hot' out of the wards (and due back there in a little while), this was Laura Farrell, determined to make her mark on our little community ASAP!!
"How can I help HLTTV..?" was almost the first thing she said, and this while she was really not yet properly attuned to her brand-new double-lungs, and barely able to walk. Watch out World this one means business!! Laura's Story is set out below in her own words, and they make inspiring reading.
She writes, in reply to some editorial sticky-beaking...
Laura: I was actually in hospital for a total of 91 days but that was initially to start a new drug because I was in such a bad way. I was in the 'end stage' of Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (same condition previously suffered by Margaret Pratt). I was started on Prostacyclin which is administered by an IV 24/7 directly into the heart and if stopped for more than 2 or 3 minutes, the patient goes down hill very fast! I was on that for about 2 months and it bought me some time.
I was lucky enough to step out of the shower on Monday 31/3/03 after having breakfast (and a sleep in!) to the news that they had a set of healthy lungs for me! I was joking around the very next day but then 2 weeks later I had some fits as a result of the Cyclosporin and Tacrolimus and ended up spending 2 more weeks in hospital, of which I have no recollection!
Yes, I received a double lung transplant on 31/3/03 and had been in local residence for 6-months prior to transplant. I am required to stay in Melbourne for 3 months post transplant and can go back home to Adelaide as long as my 12 week bronchoscopy is clear ... which it will be of course!
My eldest son Michael will be turning 16 in September and my other son Alex will be turning 13 in August (about a month after my expected return). Incidentally, while I have been away, my ex-husband Fraser moved into my house to look after the boys.
I have had my boys over for a few visits during my time here and I am happy to report that for the first time in about 18 months I was actually able to spend some quality time with them! They were over for the long weekend (Queen's birthday) and I took them alone and unaided via public transport to Werribee Park Open Range Zoo and then to the Melbourne Aquarium yesterday. Although I was understandably very tired by the end of our outings, I DID IT! I also did a lot of walking around the city today and went on a river cruise with my father Peter. We also had my Mum over for a another visit last week and she and Dad can't wait to be permanently re-united!
Sorry for rambling but I am extremely pleased with my progress and can't wait to be home with my boys! I hope you've got all the info you were after ... probably a lot more than you were expecting!
I would like to keep in contact with the group and if there is anything I am able to do to help please don't hesitate to ask.
Regards Laura Farrell
Great story, Laura. Let's hope you're able to do all you want to do, for the rest of your new life!!
Meanwhile back in the Wards a little way away, on another floor, was Carl Seales, ex-chairman, and one of the elder-statesmen of the Trust. Carl had been in for several weeks with some leg problems. He was leaving for home the day I interviewed him.
In many ways Carl is the direct opposite to Laura. He'd be the first to admit he is no 'spring-chicken', and he's had his transplanted heart for 10 years now, nearly as many years as Laura has had weeks!! But at the heart (!) of the matter they are the same. Both exhibit great keenness to 'do something' for their fellow recipients. They both realise that what they have been through seems traumatic to pre-op patients who, in their anxiety, can, as a rule, know only what they are told by the hospital professionals.
This is quite different to the state of euphoria felt when it's all over!! How to communicate this 'future state' to pre-ops?? It obviously comes out as most believable from those who have gone before - NOT from Doctors or Nurses who can only observe from the outside.
As an ambassador and communicator for the cause of Organ Transplantation , Carl has been something of a phenomenon. He was on the Transplant Promotion Council when that body was active, and also, when a committee-member of the then Family Fund he organised many events to raise funds, including more than $40,000.00 through the 'T for Transplant' drive, a trip around the state taken in an old T Model Ford - a project conducted by the Mt Eliza Rotary Club. We wish Carl well, and trust he's recovered completely.
We don't expect Laura to be driving around Australia just yet, but who knows what's around the corner - maybe not a T-Model Ford but someday soon it could be the 21st century equivalent. Old and new recipients should be driving in the same direction, surely, and I believe these two exemplars point the way. (Ed.)