This day 5 years ago was the day our lives would, once again, begin a new chapter. You see, it was the day that Ellis woke from her heart and double lung transplant. The previous day Ellis had the operation which was particularly difficult due to the severity of her CF lungs and took about 6 hours, which seemed like a lifetime. I remember everything so vividly, what we spoke about prior to her going into theatre, the feelings and thoughts I had, just how surreal and totally unbelievable the whole scenario was. I can still hear the noise of the closing theatre door as the nurse wheeled her in and Ellis waving goodbye to us with her huge, but obviously scared smile. I remember thinking "this might be the last time I ever see that beautiful smile and big brown eyes".
Waiting to go to theatre.
Thankfully that wasn't the case, at about 4.15 Ellis came out of theatre and was taken to her recovery room. And there she lay surrounded by noisy machines and nurses, hooked to endless wires and tubes, needles coming from her wrists and neck. I remember touching her face and holding her hand and not being prepared for how cold she felt, scared that she wasn't breathing as her chest wasn't heaving. She looked more peaceful than I had seen her in a long time as the breathing machine did all the work for her and right there and then I knew she would wake up. At about 10 that evening after numerous conversations with the surgeon and team and out of pure physical and emotional exhaustion, I reluctantly left to get some sleep.
When I awoke, I instantly called the ward and was told Ellis had awoke at about 2am, that they didn't call as they had lots of checks and tests to do. They assured me she was doing well. I simply can not describe how I felt when I walked in that morning and saw her face. The happiness I could see in her eyes is something I will never forget. To see her breathing on her own, with her new lungs aided by some oxygen, and to feel her skin warming with every beat of her new heart was simply overwhelming. At that moment I thought of her donor laying there whilst her family had to do the unimaginable and say goodbye to her, probably in a similar room to this. I burst into tears, they had lost their loved one but they made the most, generous, courageous and selfless decision to donate her organs and give the gift of life to total strangers.
Without her donor and the choice her family made, our new chapter in life would never have begun.