Rachel and David on their wedding day
Rachel Chambers was a perfectly normal, healthy schoolgirl until she turned yellow overnight. The liver disease that had attacked her out of nowhere floored her for a couple of months. After a partial recovery she was knocked flat a second time for another two months. Once again she seemed to be recovering but the next onset was so severe that she was placed on the emergency transplant list. Rachel received a new liver in Birmingham Children’s Hospital in January 2002 at the age of 8.
The months prior to Rachel’s transplant were a difficult and distressing time. During her long bouts of illness she became too weak to go to school and was fit for little more than watching television at home. When she seemed to be getting better, the next bout of illness was all the more difficult to cope with. Medical staff were very kind and supportive in the build up to the transplant, using dolls and pictures in books to explain the surgical processes in terms she understood.
Rachel was in Intensive Care for 2 days and then moved to a high dependency ward, where her energy levels rocketed. She was ready for home after a week and rather annoyed that an infection kept her in hospital for a further week. She returned to school in March and her only medical setback since was a bout of rejection in 2009 that was quickly controlled by medication. She finished her studies at Kilkeel High School, completed a degree in ICT and Computing at Queen’s and works for B/E Aerospace, with whom she spent her undergraduate placement year. She has represented Team GB/NI in a range of sports – 10-pin bowling, badminton, archery, running – at three world games in Thailand, Australia and South Africa. Rachel and David married in 2014.
She says: I think of my donor all the time. Without the gift of a new liver I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have survived a year as a child let alone lived such a full life.
Please join the organ donor register, tell your family and friends you have done so and offer the gift of life to someone like Rachel. It is a gift that will be cherished.
Online: organdonation.nhs.uk By phone 0300 123 23 23