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Grandmother celebrates 25 years of joy since liver transplant

PUBLISHED: 12:55 21 March 2015

Ruth Perfitt celebrating 25 years since having a liver transplant. Pictured with her husband Don.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Ruth Perfitt celebrating 25 years since having a liver transplant. Pictured with her husband Don. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2015

A grandmother is celebrating a major milestone after a liver transplant that saved her life.

Ruth Perfitt celebrating 25 years since having a liver transplant. Pictured with her daughter Rosy in 1990, two weeks before the transplant.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYRuth Perfitt celebrating 25 years since having a liver transplant. Pictured with her daughter Rosy in 1990, two weeks before the transplant. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A grandmother is celebrating a major milestone after a liver transplant that saved her life.

Strolling hand in hand with her husband, Ruth Perfitt, says she is so grateful to be alive.

Twenty five years ago she was facing a long and painful battle with liver disease.

Now, aged 77, she is celebrating a quarter of a century of joy and thanking those who saved her life.

“I feel grateful to be here every single day,” said Mrs Perfitt, of Framingham Lane, Bramerton.

“I was dying and there wasn’t any other help for me. I owe my life to the NHS and the organ donor family.”

Since the transplant on May 23 1990, the retired N&N nurse has been determined to live life to the full with husband Don, 81, son Haydn, 49, and daughter Rosy Meadows, 53.

“When I think back to how ill I was before my transplant, I just try to keep my head straight, because as a mother, it was just so devastating,” she said. “I really want my experience to help others come forward – people are dying every day for want of a donor.”

Mrs Perfitt was diagnosed with the long-term condition, primary biliary cirrhosis, aged 36 and lived with it untreated for more than a decade.

But life became desperate – her muscles were wasting away and she suffered extreme tiredness.

“My real wish was to just live until the children didn’t need me any more,” she said. “But I looked 90 and felt worse. I was reduced to a wheelchair and I was bleeding a lot.”

But her world was transformed when an organ donor was found and she was given a new liver at the age of 53.

Mrs Perfitt has been determined to live her life to the full ever since she underwent the surgery, from travelling around the world several times to making and mending wedding dresses for cancer charity Big C.

And although Mrs Perfitt isn’t Britain’s longest surviving liver transplant patient – the title goes 
to a man who has lived 40 years after his operation – she has still survived a considerable amount of time 
since the procedure, based on her age.

In the UK about 700 liver transplants are carried out each year, but more than 100 patients die while on the waiting list.

Nine out in 10 people are still alive one year after the transplant, around eight in every 10 live at least five years, and many live for up to 20 years or more.

As part of her bid to raise awareness and support for the condition, she started the Anglian Liver Transplant Association.

This is now known as the Norfolk and Norwich Liver Group and is looking to raise £27,000 for a portable fibroscan machine which can test the condition of people’s livers without being invasive.

To make a donation call 01953 606810 or 01362 695624 or write a cheque payable to The Friends of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, with ‘fibroscan appeal’ on the back to The Treasurer, Norfolk and Norwich Liver Group, 19 The Lizard, Wymondham, NR18 9BH.

Comment – page 38

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