Lucia at her gala dinner in Tullyglass.
Lucia Qunney-Mee suffered auto-immune hepatitis as a child and received a liver transplant in Birmingham Children’s Hospital at the age of 8. A year later, chronic rejection necessitated a second transplant. For the next six years Lucia’s life veered between rich, active experience and periods when hospital became like a second home. In January 2015 sepsis from a kidney infection led to ten days in intensive care, at the end of which her liver was under so much stress that she was re-listed.
Lucia was now 16 and a transplant could not go ahead without her consent. It was a very tough decision because she knew that recovery would be much harder, physically and mentally, than before. She is grateful that her family and medical staff in Birmingham gave her time and space to think it through. She eventually signed consent forms in April and received her third liver on 9th September 2015.
In the year that followed, Lucia has achieved excellent GCSE grades, set up a social media campaign for the promotion of organ donation called Live Loudly, Donate Proudly which has reached hundreds of people, been interviewed twice on The Nolan Show, spoken about the life-enhancing impact of organ donation to politicians at Stormont, won seven gold medals in the British Transplant Games in Liverpool and been selected for the World Transplant Games in Malaga in 2017. Almost a year to the day since her transplant, Lucia’s family hosted a gala dinner in the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena at which she made a passionate and compelling case for registering as a donor to a packed room. Every bit as satisfying as any of these achievements are the things Lucia’s donor has given her that can’t be listed or measured – the chance, in her words, of laughter, joy, tears, excitement and every other emotion that life has to offer.
She says: It has been my goal, ever since I signed those consent forms last year, that I would get to Malaga and that I would be the fittest, strongest and happiest person I can be. My donor has given me the ability to work my ass off for that goal. I have the chance and the hope that I will get there. That is what you could give to someone. As well as so much more. Please talk to your family about yours and their wishes. Make it a positive conversation, and help those who are uncomfortable see how important it is to discuss. We can make organ donation the norm – not the exception. An ordinary conversation which leads to an extraordinary gift.
Please join the organ donor register, tell your family and friends you have done so and offer the gift of life to someone like Lucia. It is a gift that will be cherished.
Online: organdonation.nhs.uk By phone 0300 123 23 23