A mother who had begun to make preparations for her own funeral has spoken about the Christmas phone call that pulled her from death’s doorstep.
Lynda O’Mahony (41) from Cork was gravely ill after her liver went into failure as a result of an autoimmune disorder, primary biliary cirrhosis (PCB), and the mum-of-two said she had accepted she was going to die.
Speaking to the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM, Lynda said a phone call with news of a viable liver for transplant in early December offered her a lifeline when she had given up all hope. The mum had been on the transplant list for over a year.
“I was so weak, I was bleeding internally. I had varicose veins like tentacles on my oesophagus, my stomach, my bowels. Blood was just pouring out of my liver. It was horrendous.
“My 18-year-old had become my mother, my minder. She was washing me and bathing me and holding me like I was a child,” she said.
“I was dying. I was asked to prepare my children. How do you prepare a 10-year-old that your Mammy might not make it? I was asked to have letters written to my kids but I couldn’t face it.
“I had given up hope and accepted I was going to die. I didn’t want a Christmas tree or anything. My body was so weak and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I felt in my heart I wouldn’t see Christmas,” she said.
On December 9, the mum received a call from Cork University Hospital with the news that a match had been found and she would undergo a life-saving liver transplant the next day.
“I got the most wonderful call that day that saved my life. The minute I woke up I stuck my thumb up. I felt good. I knew I had lived through the operation and I knew that I would be able to be a mother again to my children.
“The next day I was taken out of Intensive Care but I was up and mobile and walking. I was grateful for every step I took. I felt like I came back to life.”
The mum was diagnosed with PCB when she was 29 and began going into liver failure in July 2015. Prior to the transplant, Lynda suffered from intense itching as a result of the disorder, and said she used to scrape her skin with a cheese-grater and tin foil to get relief. The serious disorder causes damage to the bile ducts in the liver and damages healthy tissue and Lynda had been left incontinent and wheelchair bound.
After waking up from surgery, Lynda said her itching symptoms had instantly gone and she enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with her family, against the odds.
“I got my life back on the 10th of December. I am the happiest person you’ll ever see.
“I felt exhausted but wonderful,” she said.
The grateful liver recipient urged people to consider organ and blood donation, and said she would not have lived to see Christmas had it not been for her generous donor.
“As much as I want to highlight the importance of being an organ donor, I also want to highlight the importance of blood transfusions because they’re equally as important. I wouldn’t have survived without them.
"I’m celebrating my birthday on the 10th of December from now on. Life is so precious and some people don’t realise how precious it is.
"Since I have had a transplant my hair’s after growing back really curly. I’ve got the spring in my step and spring back into my life."
A woman who shared her experience of liver transplant to help make the Phil Mitchell story in EastEnders as realistic as possible said she hopes it will encourage viewers to join the organ donation register.