For years after her first transplant, Lucia wanted to be a medic. Wanted to start a paediatric liver unit where there wasn’t one, as her much-loved consultant, Professor Deirdre Kelly, had done in Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Too many weeks in hospital at crucial times affected her A level results. She decided on a different path, maybe to reconsider medicine later. From her last hospital bed Lucia applied to the BBC for a course in journalism and passed the first round with flying colours.
We wonder what would be taking her attention and energy today.
Maybe Gaza and Israel. Probably the children and young people caught and trampled in that vicious conflict.
Probably the plight of the hospitals.
We have watched, many times, as ITU staff took Lucia for CT scans, MRI scans, invasive procedures, and marvelled, even through our unvoiced fears, at the skill in manoeuvring their patient with all her machines and wires and tubes to the next unit. Done with profound care, attention to the tiniest detail, and to the young girl whose life was in their hands.
But what if you can’t take the machines, or the tubes, and have to leave not only the ward but the hospital. Outside there are bullets, rockets, bombs. All the chaos and destruction of a battlefield. What then?
We don’t know.
What we do know is that 16 years ago, on this day, 24th November, through the grace and courage of a donor family still strangers to us, Lucia’s life was saved. It was the start of a road we would never have chosen but with so much that was unforgettable and irreplaceable. Not least the sheer grace and kindness of medical staff, family and friends, and the solidarity of others we may never know. For twelve and a half more years Lucia worked and played and danced…and campaigned from the depth of her gratitude and joy for life. Learning about organ donation and transplants the hard way.
There are better ways to learn. If she couldn’t start a paediatric liver unit she would do all she could to help others have conversations in easier circumstances. Like working to see organ donation awareness education material in schools. Or simply inviting people to start those conversations with their families and friends. Driven, always, by her boundless gratitude for the donors, and their families who, from within their darkness, gave light for Lucia and those she loves.
At whatever level, wherever they are, we know that hospitals, health, children and young people, making a difference, believing in change and in conversations that can save lives, were in her heart. We hold them in ours. Please keep them in yours…