A dad is preparing for Christmas with his family after he was given a second chance following a lifesaving liver transplant – and said his donor is a true hero.
Gareth Weeks, 38, was diagnosed with incurable Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) six years ago and was so ill his skin had turned yellow.
His only hope a liver transplant and after years of drug trials Gareth was told he would be added to the transplant list.
In May this year he got the call to tell him a match had been found – just seven months after being added to the list.
Gareth said he is now looking forward to a magical family Christmas with his wife Vicki and daughter Zara, seven, after he was given the gift of life.
Gareth, from Dunfermline, Fife, said: “I’m really excited about spending Christmas with my family as we’ve not really been able to enjoy it fully with my illness hanging over us.
“This year we’ll be enjoying a Christmas lunch at home before heading off to Paris with my brother, sister-in-law and nephews, who arrive from Cape Town on Boxing Day.
“I have a long road ahead, but I’m actually excited about my future again.
“I’ve entered the Edinburgh half marathon next May and we’ve also booked our first family holiday abroad in years – to Disneyland.”
Before he was diagnosed with chronic liver disease Gareth said he was exhausted all the time.
But just six months after his transplant he has gone from sleeping everyday to exercising.
Gareth said: “I had begun to feel exhausted all the time, but my daughter was only a few months old at the time, so I assumed it was simply part of being a new dad.
“A few months later, I was diagnosed with PSC.
“I began reading up about my condition before I had even left the hospital car park.
“I read that there was no cure, a transplant was required, and my life expectancy would be between 10 and 12 years.
“It was a total shock.
“In six months, I’ve gone from sleeping everyday to exercising.
“I’ve gone from missing out to being there. I’ve gone from feeling hopeless to hopeful.
“All of this would not have been possible without the generosity of my donor and their family.
“I don’t yet have the words to fully describe how I feel other than my donor is a true hero.
“I am so grateful to all of the team at the RIE for giving me and my family this second chance, they are truly world-class.”
Gareth is one of hundreds of patients whose lives have been transformed by the teams at the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
A total of 1,758 patients have received a lifesaving transplant since the unit first opened its doors on November 2, 1992 to help give patients a second chance of life.
John Casey, consultant surgeon and clinical director for transplant, said: “Gareth’s story is incredibly inspiring, and I commend him for raising awareness of organ donation.
“We wish him and his family all the very best.
“While the sheer number of transplants is remarkable, the transplant unit is about people helping people and I am very proud of all the staff who have worked so hard in the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit over the last 30 years.
“If you participate in any part of transplantation, you know that each transplant takes a full team including doctors, nurses, allied professionals, donor services and family members working together.
“The Transplant Unit has been able to help so many patients because of the generosity of organ donors — those giving the ultimate gift of life.
“Thank you all for being part of the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit’s evolution and success.”
The highly skilled transplant team was resilient throughout the pandemic, carrying out 182 liver transplants.
For details about organ donation, visit organdonationscotland.org.