Wakefield bride-to-be born suffering from cancer needs second life-saving liver transplant before marrying fiance from Leeds
A bride-to-be who needs a second life-saving liver transplant operation has been making invitations for the wedding day that can only happen if a donor is found.
Rebecca Gough - who said she needs a full transplant within 12-months to survive - was told in March that the operation would not take place if a donor was found during the Covid-19 pandemic as she is classed as a high risk.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has said that from today (Thursday July 9), the names of all patients on the organ transplant waiting list - including those in high risk categories - will be reactivated.
Miss Gough, 33, of Outwood, Wakefield, was born suffering from liver cancer and underwent a liver transplant aged just two-years-old at St James's Hospital in Leeds in December 1989.
The operation was a success and Miss Gough, who worked as a healthcare assistant at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, was able to lead a normal life until she fell ill in 2018.
Tests revealed the transplanted liver was failing and she spent six months in hospital in 2019.
Miss Gough is on the transplant waiting list for a new liver, but was told in March that the operation would be too risky during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Miss Gough and fiance James Towse, 31, of Stanningley, Leeds, got engaged in December and hope to marry in a ceremony at Leeds Town Hall in Summer 2023.
She said: "I have been making things for the wedding, that has been keeping me active.
"I have made my own cake stand and I have made my own invitations.
"At the moment I am just grateful for waking up every day. I might not make it to the transplant. I have just got to keep as strong as I can and as active as I can."
"There's that many people waiting, and with Covid-19 delaying things even more, it has put a strain on me."
Mr Towse, who is a key worker at Sainsbury's stores in Headingley and Meanwood, said: "She is in extreme pain. There have been times when she has cried herself to sleep because she is in so much pain and the morphine doesn't take it away.
"It is really tough because there is nothing I can do to help and comfort her."
The couple have launched a JustGiving crowdfunding page to raise funds for the liver transplant team at St James's Hospital and ward J38 on the hospital's liver unit.
Dr Phil Wood, chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We understand that this has been a very worrying time for patients awaiting an organ transplant.
"Throughout the pandemic we have been endeavouring to provide organ transplants for patients where it is appropriate and where it is safe to do so.
“For some patients in higher risk groups, the risks of ill health resulting from transplantation during the Covid-19 pandemic outweigh the potential benefits.
“Every potential organ donor is being tested for Covid-19 and if someone is positive they will not be able to donate.
"Although there is no known transmission of Covid-19 through organ donation, as patients who need a transplant have to be immuno-suppressed, any risks need to be minimised as much as possible.
“Along with the rest of the NHS, we have seen a decline in donor numbers and a corresponding decline in the number of transplants we have performed over the course of the pandemic.
“In line with national guidance we have been prioritising our clinically urgent patients for transplant alongside other urgent patients nationally for when suitable donors become available from anywhere in the country.
“Over the last few weeks transplant numbers have risen, with 56 transplants performed nationally in the week commencing June 15 - which is near to the normal level of activity.
"We are pleased to say that from Thursday July 9 we will be re-activating all patients on our waiting list for organ transplantation.
“We are constantly reviewing the situation and we are committed to achieving timely and safe transplantation for all our patients.”