I nearly died before I had a double lung transplant
I also have cystic fibrosis, osteoporosis and hearing problems
When Charlotte Davies was 16, her lungs collapsed and doctors said she would need a transplant soon or she would die.
Seriously ill, Charlotte was put on the waiting list for a new set of lungs as her health rapidly deteriorated — at one point her lung capacity was at 19 per cent.
She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby and had been in and out of hospital throughout her childhood.
Now 21, Charlotte is a fresher at Westminster studying TV production: her teenage ordeal inspired her also to become an advocate for organ donation.
She says: “I was going into my GCSEs when my lungs collapsed.
“I was told I needed a double lung transplant so they put me on the donor list. But I had to put on more weight to be higher up the list because they want you to be healthier. I had a couple of months to get the weight up.
“It was extremely tough then. I spent a year waiting on the list for a transplant. That was the time when most people are getting out into the world and doing new things. And I felt like I was getting left behind.
“But then four weeks before my 18th birthday, I got a phone call from the doctors to say there was a potential match and I had to get to the hospital as soon as possible.
“You have to be a blood match and have the right tissue type so I had all these tests and waited for hours.
“Then they said I had a match. It was a life-changing moment.”
Brave Charlotte was preparing for surgery, excited after a long year waiting for a donor match when she was struck with a chilling thought.
“To be honest, it was terrifying. There was a percentage change I would never wake up from the operation. So as they were doing the anaesthetic and I was falling asleep, I was thinking, ‘could this be my last breath?’
“But it went really smoothly. I was in and out of the hospital within three weeks. Every six months I have to go the clinic to see how everything is going and check my lung function.
“At my worst I was at 19 per cent and now I’m on 80 per cent.”
The 21-year-old can now live a normal life and no longer feels like she’s been left behind.
“I’ll be on immunosuppressants for life and I feel tired a bit, all the time. But I can keep up with everyone else and I’m now living normally.
“Going to university was my life goal, it was always the thing I wanted to do. And now I’m here.”
The strong fresher says her outlook on life has changed forever since her transplant.
“I don’t take things for granted. Simple things like being able to walk up the stairs by myself are amazing. I make the most of now, even though I have osteoporosis, diabetes and hearing problems.
“I want to be a producer of documentaries. I wouldn’t be where I am now without my parents. They pushed me to follow my dream.”
Charlotte’s donor joined the Organ Donor Register – you can too here.