Robert Ford had to undergo two transplants – a year apart – after a condition caused his liver to fail, and left his body unable to fight infection.
Robert, 24 from Stirling, was diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia when he was in high school, a condition that meant his immune system attacked and destroyed his red blood cells.
He managed on immunosuppressant drugs and steroids, until in 2015 he was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, something he viewed at the time as meaning ‘just another tablet’.
However by the new year, Robert noticed his health was getting progressively worse, with regular trips to Forth Valley Royal Hospital for intravenous antibiotics.
“I felt okay, but didn’t look okay. My eyes had gone yellow, the jaundice made me look like Homer Simpson and all my fat reserves had gone. When I was told a transplant was the only option, I knew it was a good thing, but was also pretty scared as it was the complete unknown.”
Robert’s first transplant surgery in October 2016 wasn’t straightforward, and the following September he was told his liver was failing and was put back on the transplant list.
A year later, he got the call he’d been waiting for.
“I was in complete shock. Things went so much better this time around, and other than an issue in January with the bile ducts attached to the organ, it’s been onwards and upwards.
“I feel really grateful for the gift I’ve been given. I don’t think you can thank a person enough for doing that for you. They made a decision during the worst time of their lives, and they’ll never know how many lives they’ve saved, but I’m one of them.
“I think moving to an opt-out system is a good thing, but equally I don’t think people should be demonised if donation isn’t something they want to do. I completely understand why some people can’t see through grief when asked about organ donation. It’s a personal choice at the end of the day.
“My health is fantastic compared to what I was putting up with. Work, holidays, making a home with Chloe, everything I should have been doing, I can now do. And I’ve my donor to thank for that.”